Advances in surgical technique, technology and improvements in perioperative care have allowed more complex patients and surgical procedures to be scheduled on an ambulatory basis. Recently, health care providers are being faced with a tremendous demand and growth in the number of these patients. Choosing the appropriate anesthetic technique in this setting is an integral part of providing safe, fast, efficient, and cost-effective anesthesia and analgesia.

As an α-2 adrenergic agonist, dexmedetomidine (DEX) possesses properties that may be advantageous for the ambulatory setting: sedation that has similarities to non-REM sleep, anxiolysis, analgesia, sympatholysis, an anesthetic (volatile agent and narcotic) sparing effect, a decreased incidence of emergence delirium after volatile anesthetics and the ability to preserve respiration. These physiologic effects lend themselves to incorporating α-2 agonists into an ambulatory anesthetic. Anesthesia providers must have a comprehensive understanding of the pharmacologic,...

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