A Bedside Method for Measuring Effects of a Sedative Drug on Cerebral Function in Newborn Infants

Sofie Nilsson, Anton Tokariev, Marjo Metsäranta, Elisabeth Norman, Sampsa Vanhatalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Data on the cerebral effects of analgesic and sedative drugs are needed for the development of safe and effective treatments during neonatal intensive care. Electroencephalography (EEG) is an objective, but interpreter-dependent method for monitoring cortical activity. Quantitative computerized analyses might reveal EEG changes otherwise not detectable. Methods: EEG registrations were retrospectively collected from 21 infants (mean 38.7 gestational weeks; range 27–42) who received dexmedetomidine during neonatal care. The registrations were transformed into computational features and analyzed visually, and with two computational measures quantifying relative and absolute changes in power (range EEG; rEEG) and cortico-cortical synchrony (activation synchrony index; ASI), respectively. Results: The visual assessment did not reveal any drug effects. In rEEG analyses, a negative correlation was found between the baseline and the referential frontal (rho = 0.612, p = 0.006) and parietal (rho = −0.489, p = 0.035) derivations. The change in ASI was negatively correlated to baseline values in the interhemispheric (rho = −0.753; p = 0.001) and frontal comparisons (rho = −0.496; p = 0.038). Conclusion: Cerebral effects of dexmedetomidine as determined by EEG in newborn infants are related to cortical activity prior to DEX administration, indicating that higher brain activity levels (higher rEEG) during baseline links to a more pronounced reduction by DEX. The computational measurements indicate drug effects on both overall cortical activity and cortico-cortical communication. These effects were not evident in visual analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number444
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jan

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology

Free keywords

  • brain monitoring
  • dexmedetomidine
  • EEG analysis
  • newborn
  • sedative drug


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