sodium thiopentone

Last reviewed 01/2018

Thiopentone sodium is the most widely used intravenous anaesthetic agent. It leads to a smooth induction in seconds and its effects last for 3-8 minutes. Metabolism is slow (half life of 11 hours) so "hangover" effects are common and recovery from the induction dose is due to redistribution.

It has anticonvulsant but no analgesic properties.

It is contraindicated in:

  • hypovolaemia / shock - produces cardiorespiratory depression
  • barbiturate allergy
  • porphyria

A relative contraindication is significant airways obstruction. Inadvertent intrarterial injection may result in vasospasm, ischaemia and gangrene.