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Propofol Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Apr 5, 2021.

For the Consumer

Applies to propofol: intravenous emulsion

Warning

Intravenous route (Emulsion)

Emergency Use Authorization of Fresenius Propoven 2% Emulsion: Note important differences in formulation and labeling between the current US marketed FDA-approved Diprivan® injectable emulsion, USP 10 mg/mL products and Fresenius Propoven 2% emulsion. See details in the Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers before administering Fresenius Propoven 2% emulsion.

Side effects requiring immediate medical attention

Along with its needed effects, propofol may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking propofol:

More common

  • Blurred vision
  • confusion
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fast, slow, irregular, or pounding heartbeat or pulse
  • headache
  • nervousness
  • pounding in the ears
  • problems with movement
  • sweating
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Less common

  • Bluish lips or skin
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • difficulty breathing
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting

Rare

  • Anxiety
  • bleeding gums
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • changes in vision
  • chills
  • cloudy urine
  • cough
  • coughing up blood
  • delirium or hallucinations
  • difficult urination
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dry eyes, mouth, nose, or throat
  • excessive muscle tone
  • eye pain
  • fever
  • flushing or redness of the face
  • general feeling of illness
  • hives, itching, skin rash
  • inability to move the eyes
  • increased blinking or spasms of the eyelid
  • increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding
  • increased watering of the mouth
  • irritability
  • joint pain or swelling
  • loss of appetite
  • mood or mental changes
  • muscle aches, cramps, or pains
  • muscle spasms or twitching
  • muscle stiffness, tension, or tightness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • nosebleeds
  • pain in the arms or legs
  • prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • red or dark brown urine
  • red or black, tarry stools
  • restlessness
  • shaking
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • sore throat
  • sticking out of tongue
  • tightness in the chest
  • trembling
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble speaking
  • uncontrolled twisting movements of the neck, trunk, arms, or legs
  • unusual facial expressions

Side effects not requiring immediate medical attention

Some side effects of propofol may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of skin, feeling of pressure, hives, infection, inflammation, itching, lumps, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, or warmth at the injection site

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to propofol: intravenous emulsion

Cardiovascular

Very common (10% or more): Hypotension (75%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hypertension, bradycardia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, atrioventricular heart block, bigeminy, bundle branch block, cardiac arrest, ECG abnormal, edema, extrasystole, heart block, myocardial infarction, myocardial ischemia, premature ventricular contractions, ST segment depression, supraventricular tachycardia, tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, extrasystole, syncope, chest pain, right heart failure

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Pulmonary edema, asystole, syncope, perioperative arrhythmias, cardiac arrest

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Cardiac failure

Frequency not reported: Cardiac arrhythmia[Ref]

Dermatologic

Very common (10% or more): Pruritus (28%)

Common (1% to 10%): Transient flush, rash

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Conjunctival hyperemia, diaphoresis, urticaria[Ref]

Gastrointestinal

Common (1% to 10%): Nausea, vomiting

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypersalivation, cramping, diarrhea, dry mouth, enlarged parotid, nausea, impaired swallowing, vomiting, ileus

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Pancreatitis, abdominal cramps[Ref]

Genitourinary

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Urinary retention oliguria

Rare (Less than 0.1%): Discoloration of the urine following prolonged use[Ref]

Hepatic

Frequency not reported: Hepatomegaly[Ref]

Hypersensitivity

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Anaphylaxis, in some cases with angioedema, bronchospasm, erythema, and hypotension (these reactions have been reported to respond to adrenaline)[Ref]

Local

Common (1% to 10%): Pain during injection (e.g., burning, tingling/slinging)

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Tissue necrosis following accidental extravascular administration

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hives/itching, phlebitis, redness/discoloration[Ref]

Metabolic

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): BUN Increased, creatinine increased, dehydration, hyperglycemia, metabolic acidosis, osmolality increased

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Metabolic acidosis, hyperkalemia, hyperlipidemia[Ref]

Musculoskeletal

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pain in extremities, trunk pain, whole body weakness, pain in extremities, neck rigidity/stiffness

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Rhabdomyolysis (when administered at doses greater than 4 mg/kg/hour for ICU sedation)[Ref]

Nervous system

Paresthesias (including burning, tingling, stinging) and/or pruritus, usually manifested in the perineal region, were the most frequently recorded adverse reactions in clinical trials. Paresthesias and pruritus generally occurred within 5 minutes after administration of the initial dose and were generally transient and mild to moderate in intensity. The pharmacologic basis of these sensory phenomena is unknown. No pretreatments, including the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, or lidocaine, are known to have an effect on or to reduce the incidence of these sensations.[Ref]

Very common (10% or more): Paresthesia (74%), excitation phenomena such as involuntary movements, twitches, tremors, hypertonus, hiccup

Common (1% to 10%): Headache, shivering

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Convulsions and seizures of the epileptic type

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Postoperative unconsciousness

Frequency not reported: Involuntary movements[Ref]

Respiratory

Very common (10% or more): Hypoxemia (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Procedural pain (bronchoscopy), transient apnea, cough, respiratory acidosis during weaning

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Bronchospasm, burning in throat, cough, dyspnea, hiccough, hyperventilation, hypoventilation, hypoxia, laryngospasm, pharyngitis, sneezing, tachypnea, upper airway obstruction, apnea

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Pulmonary edema[Ref]

Renal

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Renal failure[Ref]

Hematologic

Common (1% to 10%): Thrombosis, phlebitis

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hemorrhage, coagulation disorder, leukocytosis[Ref]

Immunologic

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Sepsis[Ref]

Ocular

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Diplopia, eye pain, nystagmus[Ref]

Psychiatric

Common (1% to 10%): Elation/euphoria

Frequency not reported: Drug abuse and dependence[Ref]

Other

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Fever, anticholinergic syndrome, ear pain, taste perversion, tinnitus[Ref]

References

1. "Product Information. Propofol (propofol)." Hospira Inc, Lake Forest, IL.

2. "Product Information. Diprivan (propofol)." Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, Wilmington, DE.

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.