BACKGROUND: Awake craniotomy (AC) is the preferred option for the resection of tumors adjacent to eloquent cortical areas and in cases of intractable epilepsy. It is mostly used to maintain the integrity of the brain during intracranial neurosurgical procedures. Awake craniotomy requires the use of ideal anesthetics, hypnotics, and analgesics to balance sedation, prompt the reversal of sedation, and prevent respiratory depression while maintaining communication between patient and medical team. Although a wide variety of anesthetics and hypnotics have been used for awake craniotomy over the past several decades, the optimal drug for the procedure has yet to be determined. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to compare dexmedetomidine and propofol in terms of intraoperative adverse events (i.e., hypertension, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, respiratory depression), patient and surgeon satisfaction, and procedure duration.
METHODS: We searched PubMed, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Library for relevant articles published between the inception of these databases and April of 2022. The systematic search yielded 781 articles. After screening, we excluded 778 articles. The remaining three articles reporting 138 patients were selected for meta-analysis.
RESULTS: This meta-analysis showed no statistically significant difference between propofol and dexmedetomidine related to intraoperative adverse events, patient satisfaction, or procedure duration. The only statistically significant result was surgeon satisfaction, which appeared to be higher in the dexmedetomidine group.
CONCLUSIONS: Further high-quality randomized and controlled trials are needed to find a preferred agent for intraoperative sedation in awake craniotomy.