The effect of dexmedetomidine on cerebral perfusion and oxygenation in healthy piglets with normal and lowered blood pressure anaesthetized with propofol-remifentanil total intravenous anaesthesia

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During anaesthesia and surgery, in particular neurosurgery, preservation of cerebral perfusion and oxygenation (CPO) is essential for normal postoperative brain function. The isolated effects on CPO of either individual anaesthetic drugs or entire anaesthetic protocols are of importance in both clinical and research settings. Total intravenous anaesthesia (TIVA) with propofol and remifentanil is widely used in human neuroanaesthesia. In addition, dexmedetomidine is receiving increasing attention as an anaesthetic adjuvant in neurosurgical, intensive care, and paediatric patients. Despite the extensive use of pigs as animal models in neuroscience and the increasing use of both propofol-remifentanil and dexmedetomidine, very little is known about their combined effect on CPO in pigs with uninjured brains. This study investigates the effect of dexmedetomidine on CPO in piglets with normal and lowered blood pressure during background anaesthesia with propofol-remifentanil TIVA. Sixteen healthy female Danish pigs (crossbreeds of Danish Landrace, Yorkshire and Duroc, 25–34 kg) were used. Three animals were subsequently excluded. The animals were randomly allocated into one of two groups with either normal blood pressure (NBP, n = 6) or with induced low blood pressure (LBP, n = 7). Both groups were subjected to the same experimental protocol. Intravenous propofol induction was performed without premedication. Anaesthesia was maintained with propofol-remifentanil TIVA, and later supplemented with continuous infusion of dexmedetomidine. Assessments of cerebral perfusion obtained by laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) were related to cerebral oxygenation measures (PbrO2) obtained by an intracerebral Clark-type Licox probe.

Addition of dexmedetomidine resulted in a 32% reduction in median PbrO2 values for the LBP group (P = 0.03), but no significant changes in PbrO2 were observed for the NBP group. No significant changes in LSCI readings were observed in either group between any time points, despite a 28% decrease in the LBP group following dexmedetomidine administration. Caval block resulted in a significant (P = 0.02) reduction in median MAP from 68 mmHg (range 63–85) at PCB to 58 mmHg (range 53–63) in the LBP group, but no significant differences in either PbrO2 or LSCI were observed due to this intervention (P = 0.6 and P = 0.3 respectively).

Addition of dexmedetomidine to propofol-remifentanil TIVA resulted in a significant decrease in cerebral oxygenation (PbrO2) measurements in piglets with lowered blood pressure. Cerebral perfusion (LSCI) did not decrease significantly in this group. In piglets with normal blood pressure, no significant changes in cerebral perfusion or oxygenation were seen in response to addition of dexmedetomidine to the background anaesthesia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalActa Veterinaria Scandinavica
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

    Research areas

  • Cerebral perfusion, Cerebral oxygenation, Swine, Propofol, Remifentanil, Dexmedetomidine, Laser speckle contrast imaging, Licox

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