Successful management of dexmedetomidine for postoperative intensive care sedation in a patient with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis: a case report and animal experiment

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Abstract

Background: Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDA-R) encephalitis is a recently identified but increasingly recognized autoimmune paraneoplastic disease. Because these patients present complex neuropsychiatric symptoms due to NMDA-R dysfunction, the optimal methods of sedation/anesthesia remain controversial. Here, we present animal experiment data, along with a related case report, implying the safe and effective use of dexmedetomidine in patients with anti-NMDA-R encephalitis. Findings: (1) Animal experiment: in order to investigate whether dexmedetomidine may interfere with NMDA-R activity, an NMDA antagonist (MK-801) model in rats was used to simulate anti-NMDA-R encephalitis. Administration of MK-801 produced well-characterized schizophrenia-like behaviors, i.e. hyperlocomotion and stereotyped sniffing. Ketamine, an NMDA receptor-dependent anesthetic, exaggerated both behaviors, even at sub-anesthetic doses. On the other hand, dexmedetomidine did not show any exacerbation, suggesting that dexmedetomidine has no clinically relevant interaction with the NMDA-R in vivo. (2) Case report: our patient, a 27-year-old female, was diagnosed with anti-NMDA-R encephalitis secondary to ovarian teratoma. She underwent laparoscopic ovariectomy under general anesthesia using thiopental, sevoflurane, and remifentanil, which were well tolerated. After transfer to the intensive care unit, she became increasingly agitated despite repeated boluses of intravenous fentanyl. Infusion of dexmedetomidine (0.5–1.0 μg/kg/h) was started, and an adequate level of sedation was achieved uneventfully. After discontinuation of dexmedetomidine, recovery from sedation was smooth and quick without any deterioration of neurological or psychological symptoms. Conclusions: Our experimental findings and the presented case suggest that dexmedetomidine may be safely used in patients with anti-NMDA-R encephalitis. Further clinical evaluation is warranted to validate this finding.

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Yamanaka, D., Kawano, T., Tateiwa, H., Iwata, H., Locatelli, F. M., & Yokoyama, M. (2016). Successful management of dexmedetomidine for postoperative intensive care sedation in a patient with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis: a case report and animal experiment. SpringerPlus, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-3079-3

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