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Medical uses of sodium pentobarbital

The pentobarbital-chlorpromazine-alcohol group scale (PCAG) provides a measure of sedation, the amphetamine (A or AMP) scale provides a measure of amphetamine-like effects, the benzedrine group scale (BG) also assesses amphetamine-like effects, the lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) scale is sensitive to somatic and dysphoric changes, and finally, the morphine-benzedrine group (MBG) is often used to describe euphoria.

Pediatric Sedation and Analgesia

Barbiturates (Thiopental Methohexital, Methohexital and Pentobarbital)

Barbiturates are employed to numb children less than three years old for diagnostic imaging. They are generally safe, but are not recommended for patients suffering from porphyria. The most serious side effects are breathing depression and apnea, as well as hypotension. Both are more prevalent when barbiturates are administered together with opiates or benzodiazepines.

Thiopental (Pentothal) is a fast-acting barbiturate, with an onset the action lasting between 30 and 60 seconds when it is administered intravenously, and five to eight minutes when administered in rectally. It can have an 15 minutes of effect when administered intravenously, but up to one hour when administered by rectally. When administered intravenously, at dosages of 20-25 mg/kg, thiopental can be administered rectally to children in a dose of 5-10 mg/kg. Thiopental’s most notable benefit of reducing the pressure in the intracranial artery; it is therefore especially beneficial in patients for whom an increase in intracranial pressure can be a problem.

Methohexital (Brevital) can be described as an extremely-short-acting drug with an onset between 30 and 60 seconds, and a duration of action between 5 and 10 mins. It’s twice more potent than thiopental and is able to be administered intravenously at a dosage in the range of 0.5 or 1.0 mg/kg to children who are older than 12 years old. It is not recommended to be given to children younger than 12 years old and is not advised for children suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy as it could trigger seizures in this subset. Methohexital is not commonly used in the emergency department due to a single study (Zink 1991) of 102 patients which revealed 22 patients had respiratory depression that required bag-valve mask assistance. Five of the 22 patients had an acute apnea. When coupled with an analgesic drug the risk of respiratory depression can be reduced by administering the medication to reduce pain, and then gradually increasing methohexital until it has the desired effectiveness.

Pentobarbital (Nembutal) is a valuable barbiturate sedative that can be used for more prolonged radiologic procedures like magnetic resonance imaging or scans using positron emission. Its onset of effect of between 3 and 5 minutes when administered IV and a period of effect between 30 and 45 minutes. In infants and children younger than 6 months old, it is able to be administered intravenously with a dose between 1 and 3 mg/kg, and adjusted each 3 to 5 mins to the maximum dose of 100 mg, or intramuscularly at the dosage of 2-6 mg/kg up to a maximum dose that is 100 milligrams.

Pentobarbital Sodium



Pentobarbital sodium salt has been utilized to treat hypnosis and sedation for short-term relief of insomnia. Pentobarbital sodium can also be employed as a premedication during anesthetic procedures. Pentobarbital is approved by FDA for emergency treatment of certain convulsive episodes that occur in the acute phase, e.g., those that are caused by status epilepticus meningitis, eclampsia and cholera as well as the toxic effects of strychnine and local anesthetics. The other indications for pentobarbital include treatment of nonfatal submersion and traumatic/nontraumatic raised intracranial pressure.


Intraperitoneal (IP) injection of pentobarbital can be used in research medicine as an anesthetic to small animals like rat and mouse. Pentobarbital is a powerful medicine to treat seizures caused by convulsive convulsions which are often they are caused by strychnine.

Dosage of Drugs

Short-Acting Barbiturates: Pentobarbital

Pentobarbital is water-soluble. If it is released into the air with an estimated vapor pressure of 3x 10-10mmHg (25 degC) It will exist only as particulate phase in the atmosphere. As an elemental pentobarbital, it will be eliminated from the air by either dry or wet deposition. Pentobarbital is not prone to photolysis by sunlight since pentobarbital doesn’t contain the chromophores that absorb light wavelengths higher than 290 nanometers. If pentobarbital does get released into soil with a pKa of 7.8 means that it is present as an anion, and doesn’t absorb strongly to soils with clay or organic carbon. Pentobarbital isn’t expected to break down from soils that are moist according to the estimated Henry’s law constant of 8.4 10-13 atm-cu m mg-1. If it is released into water, pentobarbital isn’t expected to absorb to suspended sediments and substances in water based on an estimated Koc. The release of water-borne volatiles is not likely to be a significant fate-related process, based on Henry’s law constant estimates. Pentobarbital is estimated to have a BCF (BCF) at 11. This suggests that the possibility of bioconcentration in aquatic organisms is very low. Pentobarbital does not contain functional groups that can hydrolyze easily and hydrolysis isn’t expected to be a significant ecological fate process.

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Sagittal Clusters of Seizure and Status Epilepticus

Seizure clusters are also known as acute serial seizures or repetitive seizures are seizures that are closely clustered, resulting in an increase in the frequency of seizures in comparison to baseline, typically lasting from minutes to a few days. Seizure clusters could be characterized by seizures of any kind and could be different in their severity but, in general, there is a complete recovery between seizures. Seizure clusters are most common for epilepsy patients who are drug resistant and, in particular, those who have epilepsy that is not symptomatic and remote epilepsy. Patients who have seizure clusters have a higher likelihood to be diagnosed with an epileptic history. Seizure clusters may develop into long-lasting seizures, or even to status epilepticus. The progression of seizures can be predicted for patients individually according to their history of seizures. This can help determine the best course of treatment for seizures that occur in clusters. Small clusters of seizures can be managed with oral doses containing the benzodiazepines. However, more severe clusters, specifically those that have been which can lead to seizures that last for a long time or have status epilepticus might require different methods of treatment. Rectal diazepam is the only FDA-approved medication for use outside of hospitals by non-medical caregivers (Cereghino and al. 1998) up to the point that intranasal midazolam spray received approval in the year 2019 (Detyniecki and colleagues. 2019,). Buccal midazolam is widely in use in Europe and other different countries (Nakken and Lossius in 2011) but hasn’t been accepted by the FDA in the United States. Intranasal diazepam has been approved by US FDA in the year 2020. The effectiveness of intramuscular diazepam administered by autoinjectors was proven in a blinded controlled study (Abou-Khalil and co. 2013, 2013) however, this didn’t bring about FDA acceptance or marketing. Other methods that were tested include buccal diazepam as well as staccato midazolam.

Status epilepticus has been previously defined as seizure-related activity that lasts for 30 minutes or recurrent seizures that do not recover between episodes. The duration of 30 minutes has been controversial, because it could delay aggressive treatment, especially when a prolonged duration is anticipated in the absence of treatment. Evidence from experiments suggests that irreparable neuronal injury can occur after 20-30 mins of generalized convulsive syndrome epilepticus (GCSE) (Fujikawa 1996; Meldrum and Brierley 1973) So every effort must be taken to stop seizures prior to the time of. The evidence suggests that the tonic-clonic period bilaterally when there is a generalized or focal onset seizures is not more than two minutes (Jenssen and colleagues. 2006a; Theodore et al. 1994) however, it can develop to become status epilepticus. This is why it is suggested that aggressive therapy for status epilepticus begin after five minutes of tonic-clonic activities (Lowenstein and. 1999). There is evidence to suggest that FIAS which last for more than 10 minutes could become status epilepticus (Jenssen and co. 2006a). Based on this data, the ILAE classified status epilepticus as an illness “resulting from the inability of the mechanisms that are responsible for stopping seizures or the induction of mechanisms that result in abnormally prolonged seizures (after time point t1) and may have lasting effects (after the timepoint at t2)” (Trinka et al. in 2015). The time point for epileptic status was 5 minutes for bilateral seizures that were tonic-clonic, 10-minutes for focal seizures and 10-15 minutes in the absence of seizures.

Anesthesia and Analgesia


Pentobarbital is an oxybarbiturate-based analog of barbituric acids. Pentobarbital is a drug that can be used as an anesthetic, sedative, and anticonvulsant. Pentobarbital’s action mechanism is similar to propofol and benzodiazepines, by the fact that GABAA receptors become activated which results in increased GABA binding and the opening of transmembrane chloride channel leading to the hyperpolarization of cells within the nervous system’s central region. Pentobarbital administration causes an effect that is dose-dependent, including hypnosis muscles relaxation, reduction of sensory cortex as well as the reticular activating system.

Like all GABAA antagonists, pentobarbital displays very little or no analgesic effect. Pentobarbital causes a dose-dependent respiratory depression that may require assistance with breathing (Peeters and co. 1988). When doses are higher pentobarbital has anticonvulsant and hypotensive properties. Vasodilation causes hypotension and decreased myocardial contractility and decreased cardiac output. These and other effects on the cardiovascular system depend on the route of administration. They are more likely to be less severe when using IP instead of IV. This is because the blood concentration at its peak is achieved much more slowly than during IV administration, and the amount of the drug that is absorbed into the portal system is susceptible to rapid destruction in the liver. Hypothermia is a common occurrence and has been observed in Gerbils (Weinandy and co. 2005). The most likely cause of hypothermia is result of a decrease in vasodilation and basal metabolism. Sedation, as well as respiratory depression may occur when pentobarbital is given alongside tranquilizers, benzodiazepines or alpha2-agonists, opioids propofol, inhalants, and anesthetic agents. Animals who are treated with pentobarbital should receive oxygen-supplementation or monitored by pulse the oximetry. General anesthetic doses can require support for respiratory or endotracheal intubation.

If pentobarbital is given an additional source of heat must be applied to animal during the time of the surgery and maintained until complete recovery in order to avoid hypothermia. Pentobarbital is a drug that can be given intraperitoneally or intravenously. If used as general anesthetics, pentobarbital can be administered in an Bolus (Borkowski and co., 1990). 1990) or as a CRI. Commercial products typically contain propylene glycol that may cause pain when injected and thrombophlebitis. This is why the intramuscular and subcutaneous methods of injection are not suggested.

Status Epilepticus


Pentobarbital (or thiopental) is a reliable treatment for SE that is refractory. Short-acting barbiturates can be absorbed quickly however, they need intensive treatment. Doses that range from 3 to 5 mg/kg, followed by an infusion of 1 to 3 mg/kg/hour are common; certain studies suggest that patients require at minimum 3.5 mg/kg/hour. Effectiveness is measured as the effect on the electroencephalogram, with an attempt to eliminate seizures or aim for a burst suppression or flat record; most reviewers seek a burst suppression pattern. Pentobarbital’s half-life is about 20 hours, but it can be extended in higher doses. In this way, prolonged comas after pentobarbital therapy is not due to the “burnt out” brain prior to the medication having been able to completely dissipate. The levels of pentobarbital are more helpful in determining the residual toxicity of a drug than in assessing the therapeutic effect.

All SE are able to be controlled by sufficient doses of pentobarbital, however hypotension is quite common. Typically the volume replacement method and low doses of vasopressors suffice. Myocardial function and regulation of temperature may be affected. The majority of reports on the use of pentobarbital reveal a very high risk of death that is often attributed to grave underlying illnesses that result in SE resistant enough to warrant pentobarbital. One of the benefits of pentobarbital aside from its constant effectiveness when used in high doses, is the decrease in cerebral metabolism as well as blood flow. It is also simple to alter. The best duration of barbiturate-induced compa hasn’t been defined. The recommendations range from 4 to 72 hours. At least 24 hours could be beneficial. Patients are likely to be taking therapeutic doses of two anticonvulsants in addition to pentobarbital withdrawal.


Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists

Pentobarbital enhances clearance and decreases the concentrations in plasma of certain beta-blockers, including alprenolol [100-101], resulting in the loss of beta-blockade. In healthy subjects, pentobarbital 100 mg decreased the levels of plasma of alprenolol in steady-state oral doses 200 mg/day for 10 consecutive days and its metabolite 4hydroxyalprenolol without affecting half-lives.

In eight healthy individuals, pentobarbital 100 mg/day over 10 days decreased the AUC of metoprolol100 mg by 32 percent with a significant interindividual variation (2-46 percent).



Pentobarbital can be described as a barbiturate with the capability of causing profound amnesia, hypnosis, sedation and anticonvulsant action in a dose-dependent manner. It is not a natural analgesic with properties. When it is properly titrated it is sedative within 5 minutes, with the duration of 30-40 minutes.


Pentobarbital is an acid derivative of barbituric, is widely used to treat anesthesia of nonhuman primates however it triggers significant respiratory and cardiovascular depression, and the effects are all-encompassing. Recovery from pentobarbital can be prolonged and is often associated with an involuntary exuberance and the occurrence of prolonged ataxia. Pentobarbital is best replaced with other drugs, except for the last resort (nonrecovery) procedures, such as perfusion-fixation, where the effects of the drug on depression are considered not to be important. Thiopental can be a helpful induction agent, however maintaining of anesthesia with continuous infusion or administering successive doses leads to lengthy recovery times. Therefore, it is best replaced by alphaxalone or propofol.