Although several options are available for postoperative sedation in the intensive care unit, the selective α2-adrenoceptor agonist dexmedetomidine may offer advantages for patients after cardiac surgery. The author conducted a review of the literature on the use of dexmedetomidine in the cardiac surgery population to determine possible advantages and disadvantages in this patient population. Although the use of dexmedetomidine has not been conclusively shown to change overall morbidity and mortality and may be associated with higher drug cost, its other demonstrated effects offer advantages for postoperative cardiac surgery patients that other forms of sedation cannot match.

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