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Pentothal

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/8/2004
Please Note: This Brand Name drug is no longer available in the US. (Generic versions may still be available.)
Pentothal Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Pentothal

Generic Name: thiopental (Pronunciation: THYE oh PEN tal)

What is thiopental (Pentothal)?

Thiopental is in a group of drugs called barbiturates (bar-BIT-chur-ates). Thiopental slows the activity of your brain and nervous system.

Thiopental is used to help you relax before you receive general anesthesia with an inhaled medication.

Thiopental may be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of thiopental (Pentothal)?

You will remain under constant supervision during treatment with thiopental. Your caregivers will watch for any serious side effects.

Tell your caregivers at once if you feel severe pain while receiving this medication.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • coughing;
  • sneezing; or
  • hiccups.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the Pentothal (thiopental sodium) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects

What is the most important information I should know about thiopental (Pentothal)?

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to thiopental or other barbiturates such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Solfoton).

You also should not receive thiopental if you have liver disease, Addison's disease, a severe thyroid disorder (myxedema), severe heart disease, severe low blood pressure, a severe breathing disorder, or a history of porphyria (an enzyme disorder that often causes blue discoloration of the skin).

Avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours after you leave the hospital or surgery center.

Thiopental can cause severe drowsiness or dizziness, which may last for several hours. You will need someone to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert for at least 24 hours.

Pentothal Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my health care provider before I receive thiopental (Pentothal)?

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to thiopental or other barbiturates such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Solfoton), or if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • Addison's disease;
  • severe thyroid disorder (myxedema);
  • severe heart disease;
  • severe low blood pressure;
  • a severe breathing disorder; or
  • a history of porphyria (an enzyme disorder that often causes blue discoloration of the skin).

Tell your doctor if you have any of the conditions listed above.

FDA pregnancy category C. Thiopental may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before you receive this medication.

Thiopental can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Before you receive this medication, tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is thiopental given (Pentothal)?

Thiopental is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein. You will receive this injection in a hospital or surgical setting.

You will be given this medication while you are lying down. You will fall asleep very quickly after thiopental is injected.

Your caregivers will monitor your heart function, blood pressure, and breathing while you are under the effects of thiopental.

Pentothal Patient Information including If I Miss a Dose

What happens if I miss a dose (Pentothal)?

Since thiopental is usually given just for anesthesia, you are not likely to be on a dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose (Pentothal)?

An overdose of thiopental is unlikely to occur since the medication is given by a doctor. Your vital signs will be closely watched while you are under anesthesia to make sure the medication is not causing any harmful effects.

What should I avoid after receiving thiopental (Pentothal)?

Avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours after you leave the hospital or surgery center.

Thiopental can cause severe drowsiness or dizziness, which may last for several hours. You will need someone to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert for at least 24 hours.

What other drugs will affect thiopental (Pentothal)?

Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:

  • blood pressure medication; or
  • a diuretic (water pill).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with thiopental. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about thiopental.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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