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All about: Pentobarbital Sodium

Big Image Pronouncation: (pen-toe-BAR-bih-tahl SO-dee-uhm)
Class: Barbiturate, short-acting, Sedative and hypnotic

Trade Names:
Nembutal Sodium
- Injection 50 mg/mL

Mechanism of Action


Depresses sensory cortex, decreases motor activity, alters cerebellar function, and produces drowsiness, sedation and hypnosis.



Absorbed in varying degrees. T max is 15 min (IV), maximal CNS depression.


Rapidly distributed to all tissues and fluids with high concentration in brain, liver, and kidneys due to lipid solubility. Protein binding is 60% to 70%. Distributes into breast milk.


Metabolized by hepatic microsomal enzyme system.


Urine (very little unchanged); in the feces is less common. The t ½ is 15 to 50 h.


Immediate following IV administration.


3 to 4 h.

Indications and Usage

Sedation; short-term treatment of insomnia; preanesthesia; emergency control of convulsions.


Hypersensitivity to barbiturates; manifest or latent porphyria.

Dosage and Administration


IV 100 mg (max IV rate, 50 mg/min). IM 120 to 200 mg (max IM dose, 500 mg or 5 mL volume regardless of concentration).


IM 2 to 6 mg/kg (max, 100 mg). IV 50 mg.


IV Use minimum dose to avoid compounding depression. Administer slowly to allow time for drug to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Do not exceed 50 mg/min.

General Advice

  • Give IM injections deeply into large muscle. Do not exceed max IM dose of 500 mg or 5 mL of volume (regardless of concentration).
  • For IV administration, inject into large vein; do not exceed max IV rate of 50 mg/min, do not administer into artery and do not allow perivascular extravasation.


  • Store at room temperature. Do not use if discolored or if precipitate forms.

Drug Interactions

Alcohol, CNS depressants

May produce additive depressant effects.

Anticoagulants, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers (eg, nifedipine, verapamil), theophylline

Activity of these drugs may be reduced.


Serum concentrations of carbamazepine, valproic acid and succinimides may be reduced. Valproic acid may increase barbiturate serum levels.


Effectiveness may be reduced.

Estrogen, estrogen-containing oral contraceptives

May cause decreased contraceptive and estrogen effect.


Decreased griseofulvin levels.

Laboratory Test Interactions

Decreased serum bilirubin concentrations, false-positive phentolamine test, decreased response to metyrapone and impaired absorption of radioactive cyanocobalamin.

Adverse Reactions


Bradycardia; hypotension; syncope.


Drowsiness; agitation; confusion; headache; hyperkinesia; ataxia; CNS depression; paradoxical excitement; nightmares; psychiatric disturbances; hallucinations; insomnia; dizziness.


Nausea; vomiting; constipation.


Liver damage.


Blood dyscrasias (eg, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia).


Hypoventilation; apnea; laryngospasm; bronchospasm.


Hypersensitivity reactions (eg, angioedema, rashes, exfoliative dermatitis); fever; injection site reactions (eg, local pain, thrombophlebitis).



Category D .


Excreted in breast milk.


May respond with excitement rather than depression.


More sensitive to drug effects; dosage reduction is required.

Renal Function

Use drug with caution; dosage reduction may be required.

Hepatic Function

Use drug with caution; dosage reduction may be required.


Tolerance or psychological and physical dependence may occur with continued use.

IV administration

Do not exceed max IV rate; respiratory depression, apnea and hypotension may result. Parenteral solutions are highly alkaline; extravasation may cause tissue damage and necrosis. Inadvertent intra-arterial injection may lead to arterial spasm, thrombosis, and gangrene.

Seizure disorders

Status epilepticus may result from abrupt discontinuation.



CNS and respiratory depression, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, areflexia, constriction of pupils, oliguria, tachycardia, hypotension, lowered body temperature, coma, apnea, circulatory collapse, respiratory arrest, death.

Patient Information

  • Warn patient that medication may be habit forming and for this reason it is important to take medicine as directed. Taking too little or too much can have serious complications.
  • Instruct patient to report the following symptoms to health care provider: nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, fever, sore throat, mouth sores, easy bleeding, bruising, skin irritation, or exaggerated sunburn.
  • Caution patient to avoid intake of alcoholic beverages or other CNS depressants.
  • Advise patient that drug may cause drowsiness, and to use caution while driving or performing other tasks requiring mental alertness.

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