Skip to Content



Pronunciation: PRO-puh-FOLE
Class: General anesthetic

Trade Names

- Injection 10 mg/mL


Produces sedation/hypnosis rapidly (within 40 sec) and smoothly with minimal excitation; decreases IOP and systemic vascular resistance; rarely is associated with malignant hyperthermia and histamine release; suppresses cardiac output and respiratory drive.

Slideshow: Setting The Record Straight: Erectile Dysfunction



Rapidly and extensively distributed. Vd is approximately 60 L/kg (10-day infusion), highly lipophilic. Crosses blood brain barrier and placenta; distributes into breast milk. Protein binding is 95% to 99%.


Liver conjugation to inactive metabolites.


50% of dose is excreted in the kidney (metabolites). Clearance is 23 to 50 mL/kg/min. Terminal t ½ is 1 to 3 days (10-day infusion). T ½ of rapid distribution is 2 to 4 min. T ½ of slower distribution is 30 to 64 min.


Rapid onset, usually within 40 sec from start of injection.


3 to 5 min (single bolus).

Special Populations


With increasing age, the dose requirement decreases because of occurrence of higher peak plasma concentrations.

Indications and Usage

Induction and maintenance of anesthesia in adults; induction anesthesia in children at least 3 yr of age; maintenance anesthesia in children at least 2 mo of age; initiation and maintenance of monitored anesthesia care sedation in adults; sedation in intubated or respiratory-controlled adult ICU patients.


Situations in which general anesthesia or sedation are contraindicated.

Dosage and Administration

Adults younger than 55 yr of age

IV Induction 40 mg every 10 sec until onset. Usual dose is 2 to 2.5 mg/kg total. For maintenance infusion, titrate to 100 to 200 mcg/kg/min (6 to 12 mg/kg/h). For maintenance intermittent bolus, use 25 to 50 mg increments, as needed.

Elderly, Debilitated, or ASA III/IV

(American Society of Anesthesiologists classification of heart disease, cardiac function, angina, and physical status used to assign risk for anesthesia.) IV 20 mg every 10 sec until onset. Usual dose is 1 to 1.5 mg/kg. For maintenance infusion, titrate to 50 to 100 mcg/kg/min (3 to 6 mg/kg/h).

Neurosurgical patients

IV Induction 20 mg every 10 sec until onset. Usual dose is 1 to 2 mg/kg. For maintenance infusion, use 100 to 200 mcg/kg/min (6 to 12 mg/kg/h).

Children at least 3 yr of age

IV Induction 2.5 to 3.5 mg/kg over 20 to 30 sec. For maintenance infusion (at least 2 mo), use 200 to 300 mcg/kg/min immediately following the induction dose, then, after the first 30 min of maintenance, use infusion rates of 125 to 150 mcg/kg/min titrated to achieve the desired clinical effect, are typically needed.

Adults younger than 55 yr of age

IV Initiation 100 to 150 mcg/kg/min (6 to 9 mg/kg/h) for 3 to 5 min (preferred method) or slow injection of 0.5 mg/kg over 3 to 5 min; follow by maintenance infusion. For maintenance, use 25 to 75 mcg/kg/min (1.5 to 4.5 mg/kg/h) (preferred method) or incremental bolus doses of 10 to 20 mg.

Elderly, Debilitated, or ASA III/IV

IV Initiation Same as adults; not as rapid bolus. For maintenance, use 20% reduction of adult dose; avoid rapid bolus doses.

ICU Sedation

IV Initiation 5 mcg/kg/min (0.3 mg/kg/h) for at least 5 min; increments of 5 to 10 mcg/kg/min (0.2 to 0.6 mg/kg/h) over 5 to 10 min may be used until desired level of sedation is achieved. For maintenance, use 5 to 50 mcg/kg/min (0.3 to 3 mg/kg/h) or higher may be required; use minimum dose required for sedation.

General Advice

  • Should be administered only by personnel who are trained in administration of general anesthesia and familiar with drug.
  • Administer only in settings in which resuscitation equipment is immediately available.
  • Shake well before use. Do not use if there is evidence of separation of phases of emulsion.
  • Maintain strict aseptic technique in handling; rapid growth of organisms may occur if contaminated.
  • Dilute with dextrose 5% injection, but do not dilute to concentration less than 2 mg/mL. Drug is compatible with dextrose 5%; lactated Ringer's injection; lactated Ringer's and dextrose 5% injection; dextrose 5% and sodium chloride 0.45% injection; dextrose 5% and sodium chloride 0.2% Injection.
  • Minimize pain associated with administration by infusing into larger veins.
  • Discard any unused portions of drug or solution at end of anesthetic procedure; do not keep for more than 6 h.
  • In ICU sedation discard after 12 h if administered directly from vial or after 6 h if transferred to syringe or other container.


Store between 40° and 72°F. Do not freeze. Protect from light.

Drug Interactions

CNS depressants (eg, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, narcotics)

Increased CNS depression.


For IV, do not mix with other therapeutic agents prior to administration. Avoid mixing blood or plasma in same IV catheter.

Laboratory Test Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions


Myocardial ischemia; hypotension; bradycardia; decreased cardiac output; hypertension (especially in children).


Amorous behavior; movement hypotonia; hallucinations; neuropathy; opisthotonos.




Conjunctival hyperemia; nystagmus.




Apnea; cough; respiratory acidosis during weaning.


Asthenia; burning, stinging, or pain at injection site; fever.



Category B .


Excreted in breast milk.


Safety and efficacy not established for induction anesthesia in children younger than 3 yr of age or maintenance anesthesia in children younger than 2 mo of age.

Labor and Delivery

Not recommended for obstetrical anesthesia (neonatal depression).

Special Risk Patients

Use lower induction and maintenance doses in elderly, debilitated, and ASA III/IV patients, and monitor continuously for sign of hypotension or bradycardia. Use with caution in patients with lipid metabolism disorders, because propofol is an emulsion. Epileptics may be at risk of convulsions during recovery phase. Avoid significant decreases in mean arterial pressure (and cerebral perfusion) in patients with increased intracranial pressure or impaired cerebral circulation.


Has occurred rarely; relationship to drug has not been established.



Cardiorespiratory and CV depression.

Patient Information

  • Advise patient that mental alertness, coordination, and physical dexterity may be impaired for some time after administration.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health.