AIMS: In order to avoid the potential for elevated serum lipid levels as a consequence of long term sedation with propofol, a formulation of propofol 6% in Lipofundin(R) MCT/LCT 10% (Propofol 6% SAZN) has been developed. The pharmacokinetics, induction of anaesthesia and safety characteristics of this new formulation were investigated after bolus injection and were compared with the commercially available product (propofol 1% in Intralipid(R) 10%, Diprivan-10) and propofol 1% in Lipofundin(R) MCT/LCT 10% (Propofol 1% SAZN). METHODS: In a randomised double-blind study, 24 unpremedicated female patients received an induction dose of propofol of 2.5 mg kg-1 over 60 s which was followed by standardized balanced anaesthesia. The patients were randomized to receive propofol as Propofol 6% SAZN, Propofol 1% SAZN or Diprivan-10. RESULTS: For all formulations the pharmacokinetics were adequately described by a tri-exponential equation, as the propofol concentrations collected early after the injection suggested an additional initial more rapid phase. The average values for clearance (CL), volume of distribution at steady-state (Vd,ss ), elimination half-life (t1/2,z ) and distribution half-life (t1/2, lambda2) observed in the three groups were 32+/-1.5 ml kg-1 min-1, 2. 0+/-0.18 l kg-1, 95+/-5.6 min and 3.4+/-0.20 min, respectively (mean+/-s.e.mean, n=24) and no significant differences were noted between the three formulations (P >0.05). The half-life of the additional initial distribution phase (t1/2,lambda1 ) in all subjects ranged from 0.1 to 0.6 min. Anaesthesia was induced successfully and uneventfully in all cases, and the quality of induction was adequate in all 24 patients. The induction time did not vary between the three formulations and the average induction time observed in the three groups was 51+/-1.3 s which corresponded to an induction dose of propofol of 2.1+/-0.06 mg kg-1 (mean+/-s.e. mean, n=24). The percentage of patients reporting any pain on injection did not vary between the formulations and was 17% for the three groups. No postoperative phlebitis or other venous sequelae of the vein used for injection occurred in any of the patients at recovery of anaesthesia nor after 24 h. CONCLUSIONS: From the above results, we conclude that the alteration of the type of emulsion and the higher concentration of propofol in the new parenteral formulation of propofol does not affect the pharmacokinetics and induction characteristics of propofol, compared with the currently available product. Propofol 6% SAZN can be administered safely and has the advantage of a reduction of the load of fat and emulsifier which may be preferable when long term administration of propofol is require
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