Generic Name: thiopental (THYE oh PEN tal)
Brand Name: Pentothal
Medically reviewed on July 31, 2017
What is thiopental?
Thiopental is a barbiturate (bar-BIT-chur-ate). Thiopental slows the activity of your brain and nervous system.
Thiopental is used to help you relax before you receive general anesthesia with an inhaled medication.
Thiopental may be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use thiopental if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system);
Addison's disease (an adrenal gland disorder);
liver or kidney disease;
severe anemia (low red blood cells);
a thyroid disorder;
To make sure thiopental is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
severe heart disease;
pituitary gland disorder;
a pancreas disorder;
problems with the muscles in or around your eyes; or
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether thiopental will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using thiopental.
Thiopental can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How is thiopental given?
Thiopental is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
You will be given this medication while you are lying down. You will fall asleep very quickly after thiopental is injected.
Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, kidney function, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving thiopental.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since thiopental is usually given just for anesthesia, you are not likely to be on a dosing schedule.
What happens if I overdose?
Since thiopental is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid after receiving thiopental?
Avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours after you leave the hospital or surgery center.
Thiopental can cause severe drowsiness or dizziness, which may last for several hours. You will need someone to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert for at least 24 hours.
Thiopental side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
You will remain under constant supervision during treatment with thiopental. Your caregivers will watch for any serious side effects. Tell your caregivers at once if you have severe pain while receiving thiopental.
Common side effects may include:
weak or shallow breathing;
chills or shivering;
sneezing, coughing, tight feeling in your throat; or
bronchospasm (wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect thiopental?
Other drugs may interact with thiopental, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
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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More about thiopental
- Thiopental Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- En Español
- 3 Reviews
- Drug class: general anesthetics
Other brands: Pentothal