A prospective study of rectal methohexital: Efficacy and side effects in 648 cases

S. M. Audenaert, C. L. Montgomery, D. E. Thompson, J. Sutherland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Rectal methohexital has been used for nearly 30 yr in pediatric anesthesia. Despite this long and increasingly varied use, no large prospective series has been published detailing safety and efficacy. This study prospectively evaluated the efficacy, safety, and side effects of this medication in a series of 648 cases. On 553 of 648 occasions (85%), the child fell asleep after a single 30-mg/kg dose of 10% methohexital. Sleep was less likely in patients with myelomeningocele or who were receiving oral phenobarbital or phenytoin. When sleep occurred, the average time to onset of sleep was 6 min. Most patients who remained awake 15 min after drug were sedated. Defecation (10%) and hiccups (13%) were common but benign side effects. Partial airway obstruction and/or desaturation to SpO2 ≤ 93% occurred in 26 patients (4%), but was resolved with blow-by oxygen and/or jaw-thrust in all but two cases. These two patients (0.3% of total) required aggressive airway intervention by the supervising anesthesiologist. Apnea did not occur in any patient. Methohexital has a high efficacy rate for sleep (85%) or sedation (96%), and has a relatively rapid onset. Significant respiratory side effects occur infrequently, but can be life threatening if not properly managed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-961
Number of pages5
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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