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Optimization of propofol dose shortens procedural sedation time, prevents resedation and removes the requirement for post-procedure physiologic monitoring


  • Anthony Bell, MB BS, FACEM, Staff Specialist; Greg Treston, BMedSci, MB BS, DTMH(Lon), D.IMC.RCS(Ed.), FACEM, FACRRM, Staff Specialist; Robert Cardwell, MB BS, FACEM, Staff Specialist; W. Jacobus Schabort, MBChB, Registrar; Dip Chand, MB BS, Registrar.

Dr Anthony J Bell, Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Butterfield Street, Herston, Qld 4006, Australia. Email:


Objective:  To examine the effect of propofol dosing (total dose and number of doses) on patient sedation time and likelihood of resedation.

Methods:  This was a prospective, observational patient series in an urban district hospital ED with 42 000 attendances per annum. Patients undergoing an emergent procedure requiring procedural sedation were included. Titrated intravenous propofol was administered according to departmental procedure. Standardized consent and data collection forms were used. Time taken for the patient to become conversational after first administration was recorded and any resedation documented.

Results:  Four hundred patients, undergoing 404 procedures, were enrolled for the period commencing August 2004 until March 2006. The mean initial propofol bolus was 0.8 mg/kg (SD 0.6), and mean total propofol dose was 1.8 mg/kg (SD 1.0), comprising a mean of 2.3 (SD 2.1) doses of 15.8 mg (SD 11.4). Mean sedation time was 11.8 min (SD 6.9), and increased sedation times were associated with higher total propofol dose and number of boluses (P < 0.0001). Resedation occurred in two patients (0.5%, 95% CI 0–1.6%).

Conclusion:  Shorter sedation times are seen with lower doses of propofol. Patients do not need prolonged post-procedure monitoring because the occurrence of spontaneous resedation associated with propofol use is a rare event. This has implications for patient flow and staff resource allocation in a busy ED.