Faculty Advisor

Dwayne Accardo, DNP, CRNA

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-11-2021


Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment | Anesthesia and Analgesia | Anesthesiology | Chemicals and Drugs | Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing | Other Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment | Perioperative, Operating Room and Surgical Nursing | Pharmaceutical Preparations | Surgery | Surgical Procedures, Operative


Purpose/Background Direct laryngoscopy and endotracheal intubation after induction of anesthesia can cause a reflex sympathetic surge of catecholamines caused by airway stimulation. This may cause hypertension, tachycardia, and arrhythmias. This reflex can be detrimental in patients with poor cardiac reserve and can be poorly tolerated and lead to adverse events such as myocardial ischemia. Fentanyl, a potent opioid, with a rapid onset and short duration of action is given during induction to block the sympathetic response. With a rise in the opioid crisis and finding ways to change the practice in medicine to use less opioids, dexmedetomidine, an alpha 2 adrenergic agonist, can decrease the release of norepinephrine, has analgesic properties, and can lower the heart rate.

Methods In this scoping review, studies published between 2009 and 2021 that compared fentanyl and dexmedetomidine during general anesthesia induction and endotracheal intubation of surgical patients over the age of 18 were included. Full text, peer-reviewed studies in English were included with no limit on country of study. The outcomes included post-operative reviews of decrease in pain medication usage and hemodynamic stability. Studies that were included focused on hemodynamic variables such as systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, heart rate, and use of opioids post-surgery.

Result Of 2,114 results from our search, 10 articles were selected based on multiple eligibility criteria of age greater than 18, patients undergoing endotracheal intubation after induction of general anesthesia, and required either a dose of dexmedetomidine or fentanyl to be given prior to intubation. Dexmedetomidine was shown to effectively attenuate the sympathetic surge during intubation over fentanyl. Dexmedetomidine showed a greater reduction in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure than fentanyl, causing better hemodynamic stability in patients undergoing elective surgery.Implications for Nursing Practice Findings during this scoping review indicate that dexmedetomidine is a safe and effective alternative to fentanyl during induction of general anesthesia and endotracheal intubation in attenuating the hemodynamic response. It is also a safe choice for opioid-free anesthesia.