Sedative and neuromuscular blocking drug use in critically ill patients with head injuries

R. C. Prielipp, D. B. Coursin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Sedative and neuromuscular blocking (NMB) drugs are used to facilitate care of head trauma patients requiring mechanical ventilation or therapy of intracranial hypertension. Because no specific regimen is appropriate in all patients, drug selection and utilization exhibit significant regional variation. Sedatives are used to decrease anxiety and diminish awareness of noxious stimuli. Propofol offers particular promise in neurosurgical intensive care. NMB drugs are used in 1% to 10% or more of critically ill patients. Increasingly more information is available to guide the use of NMB drugs for patients suffering head trauma. Broad concerns about these drugs include their use as adjunctive therapy to control intracranial hypertension, the incidence of prolonged weakness or myopathy, the potential for direct neurologic toxicity, and their effect on outcome. Resolution of these issues will improve the use of sedative and NMB drugs in intensive care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-468
Number of pages13
JournalNew Horizons: Science and Practice of Acute Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • atracurium
  • benzodiazepine
  • doxacurium
  • etomidate
  • head injury
  • neuromuscular blockade
  • pancuronium
  • propofol
  • sedation
  • vecuronium


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