Pentothal – FAQ
For patients undergoing short diagnostic, therapeutic, or surgical procedures that require them to be relaxed or motionless (such as dental procedures, colonoscopy, or endoscopy), Pentothal is usually one of the drugs administered by an anesthesiologist or other health care provider. Pentothal (also known as thiopental) is a barbiturate drug that slows the activity in the patient’s brain and nervous system by inducing anesthesia and hypnosis. It is administered via injection into a vein. Since it is given this way, there is little chance of this drug being abused or of an overdose to occur. Recovery after being administered Pentothal is fairly rapid and usually has lingering side effects of sleepiness and short-term amnesia (lack of awareness of the procedure just performed).
There are several drugs that have interactions with Pentothal: aminophylline, diazoxide, midazolam, opioid analgesics, probenecid, and zimelidine. Additionally, Pentothal is known to interact with certain vitamins, herbal supplements, and some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Patients are cautioned to notify their doctor prior to their procedure if they are on any of these medications or OTC products.
Adverse reactions to Pentothal can happen and can be very serious. Some reactions have included conditions affecting the heart (myocardial depression, cardiac arrhythmia), respiratory system (sneezing, coughing, bronchospasm, laryngospasm), prolonged drowsiness, and anaphylaxis (severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction).
Since Pentothal is not used recreationally, overdose is atypical but can happen in a medical setting. When this does occur, it tends to be from an injection of the drug being done too rapidly or repeatedly. This can cause the patient’s blood pressure to drop to an alarming level – even to that found when a person’s body is medically considered to be in a state of shock. Sometimes, the same reactions described above can manifest, thus causing a serious risk to the patient’s life. Medical teams are usually prepared for such an event and can administer other drugs to reverse the adverse reactions.
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