Intravenous general anesthetics


Intravenous general anesthetics

Intravenously-delivered general anesthetics are typically small and highly lipophilic molecules. These characteristics facilitate their rapid preferential distribution into the brain and spinal cord, which are both highly vascularized and lipophilic. It is here where the actions of these drugs lead to general anesthesia induction.


Following distribution into the central nervous system (CNS), the anesthetic drug then diffuses out of the CNS into the muscles and viscera, followed by adipose tissues. In patients given a single injection of drug, this redistribution results in termination of general anesthesia. Therefore, following administration of a single anesthetic bolus, duration of drug effect is dependent solely upon the redistribution kinetics.

The half-life of an anesthetic drug following a prolonged infusion, however, depends upon both drug redistribution kinetics, drug metabolism in the liver, and existing drug concentration in fat. When large quantities of an anesthetic drug have already been dissolved in the body's fat stores, this can slow its redistribution out of the brain and spinal cord, prolonging its CNS effects. For this reason, the half-lives of these infused drugs are said to be context-dependent. Generally, prolonged anesthetic drug infusions result in longer drug half-lives, slowed elimination from the brain and spinal cord, and delayed termination of general anesthesi

Inhalational general anesthetics

Minimal alveolar concentration (MAC) is the concentration of an inhalational anesthetic in the lungs that prevents 50% of patients from responding to surgical incision. This value is used to compare the potencies of various inhalational general anesthetics and impacts the partial-pressure of the drug utilized by healthcare providers during general anesthesia induction and/or maintenance.

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