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Methohexital

Generic Name: methohexital (METH oh HEX i tal)
Brand Name: Brevital Sodium

Medically reviewed on March 10, 2017.

What is methohexital?

Methohexital is a barbiturate (bar-BIT-chur-ate). Methohexital slows the activity of your brain and nervous system.

Methohexital is used to cause you to fall asleep before a surgery or other medical procedure.

Methohexital may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use this medicine if you have a history of porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to methohexital or other barbiturates (butabarbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital, Luminal, Nembutal, Seconal, and others), or if you have:

  • a history of porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

To make sure methohexital is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Anesthesia medicine may affect brain development in a child under 3, or an unborn baby whose mother receives this medicine during late pregnancy. These effects may be more likely when the anesthesia is used for 3 hours or longer, or used for repeated procedures. Effects on brain development could cause learning or behavior problems later in life.

Negative brain effects from anesthesia have been seen in animal studies. However, studies in human children receiving single short uses of anesthesia have not shown a likely effect on behavior or learning. More research is needed.

In some cases, your doctor may decide to postpone a surgery or procedure based on these risks. Treatment may not be delayed in the case of life-threatening conditions, medical emergencies, or surgery needed to correct certain birth defects.

Ask your doctor for information about all medicines that will be used during your surgery or procedure. Also ask how long the procedure will last.

It is not known whether methohexital passes into breast milk or if it could affect the nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.

How is methohexital given?

Methohexital is given as an injection into a muscle, or into a vein through an IV. This medication is also given rectally when used in young children.

A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when methohexital is injected.

Methohexital should make you fall asleep very quickly.

Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving methohexital. You will also be watched closely while you are coming out of the anesthesia.

Drowsiness may last for several hours. You will need someone to drive you home from after you receive methohexital.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since methohexital is used as a single dose, it does not have a daily dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after receiving methohexital?

This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery for 8 to 12 hours after you awake from anesthesia.

Do not drink alcohol just after receiving methohexital. Dangerous side effects could occur.

Methohexital side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers right away if you have:

  • severe burning or swelling where the medicine was injected;

  • fast heartbeats;

  • numbness or tingly feeling;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • weak or shallow breathing; or

  • confusion, anxiety, or restless feeling when coming out of anesthesia.

Side effects such as confusion, depression, or excitement may be more likely in older adults and those who are ill or debilitated.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Methohexital dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Anesthesia:

Induction of Anesthesia:
-Administer 1 to 1.5 mg/kg of a 1% solution IV a rate of about 1 mL/5 seconds; gaseous anesthetics and/or skeletal muscle relaxants may be administered concomitantly.
-The induction dose usually provides anesthesia for 5 to 7 minutes.

Maintenance of Anesthesia:
-Administer intermittent IV injections of 20 to 40 mg of the 1% solution every 4 to 7 minutes OR administer 3 mL of a 0.2% solution by continuous IV infusion per minute.
-Individualize the rate of flow for each patient.
-For longer surgical procedures, a gradual reduction in the rate of administration is recommended.
-Other parenteral agents (e.g., narcotic analgesics) are usually used with this drug during longer procedures.

Uses:
-For IV induction of anesthesia prior to the use of other general anesthetic agents.
-For IV induction of anesthesia and as an adjunct to subpotent inhalational anesthetic agents (e.g., nitrous oxide in oxygen) for short surgical procedures; this drug may be given by infusion or intermittent injection.
-For use along with other parenteral agents, usually narcotic analgesics, to supplement subpotent inhalational anesthetic agents (e.g., nitrous oxide in oxygen) for longer surgical procedures.
-As IV anesthesia for short surgical, diagnostic, or therapeutic procedures associated with minimal painful stimuli.
-To induce a hypnotic state.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Anesthesia:

One month or older:
Induction of Anesthesia:
IM: 6.6 to 10 mg/kg using a 5% solution
Rectal: 25 mg/kg using a 1% solution

Uses: Pediatric patients 1 month and older:
-For IM or rectal induction of anesthesia prior to the use of other general anesthetic agents.
-For IM or rectal induction of anesthesia and as an adjunct to subpotent inhalational anesthetic agents for short surgical procedures.
-As IM or rectal anesthesia for short surgical, diagnostic, or therapeutic procedures associated with minimal painful stimuli.

What other drugs will affect methohexital?

Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with methohexital, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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