Evaluation of propofol anesthesia in morbidly obese children and adolescents

Vidya Chidambaran*, Senthilkumar Sadhasivam, Jeroen Diepstraten, Hope Esslinger, Shareen Cox, Beverly M. Schnell, Paul Samuels, Thomas Inge, Alexander A. Vinks, Catherijne A. Knibbe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Poor characterization of propofol pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in the morbidly obese (MO) pediatric population poses dosing challenges. This study was conducted to evaluate propofol total intravenous anesthesia (TIVA) in this population.Methods: After IRB approval, a prospective study was conducted in 20 MO children and adolescents undergoing laparoscopic surgery under clinically titrated propofol TIVA. Propofol doses/infusion rates, hemodynamic variables, times to induction and emergence, and postoperative occurrence of respiratory adverse events (RAE) were recorded, along with intraoperative blinded Bispectral Index/BIS and postoperative Ramsay sedation scores (RSS). Study subjects completed awareness questionnaires on postoperative days 1 and 3. Propofol concentrations were obtained at predetermined intra- and post-operative time points.Results: Study subjects ranged 9 - 18 years (age) and 97 - 99.9% (BMI for age percentiles). Average percentage variability of hemodynamic parameters from baseline was ≈ 20%. Patients had consistently below target BIS values (BIS < 40 for >90% of maintenance phase), delayed emergence (25.8 ± 22 minutes), increased somnolence (RSS ≥ 4) in the first 30 minutes of recovery from anesthesia and 30% incidence of postoperative RAE, the odds for which increased by 14% per unit increase in BMI (p ≤ 0.05). Mean propofol concentration was 6.2 mg/L during maintenance and 1.8 mg/L during emergence from anesthesia.Conclusions: Our findings indicate clinical overestimation of propofol requirements and highlight the challenges of clinically titrated propofol TIVA in MO adolescents. In this setting, it may be advantageous to titrate propofol to targeted BIS levels until more accurate weight-appropriate dosing regimens are developed, to minimize relative overdosing and its consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalBMC Anesthesiology
StatePublished - Apr 21 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Anesthetic depth
  • Bariatric
  • Bispectral index
  • Morbidly obese
  • Pediatric
  • Propofol
  • Total intravenous anesthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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