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Adverse events are derived from controlled clinical trials conducted in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The reference drugs were isoflurane, enflurane, and propofol in adults and halothane in pediatric patients. The studies were conducted using a variety of premedications, other anesthetics, and surgical procedures of varying length. Most adverse events reported were mild and transient, and may reflect the surgical procedures, patient characteristics (including disease) and/or medications administered.
Of the 5182 patients enrolled in the clinical trials, 2906 were exposed to sevoflurane, including 118 adults and 507 pediatric patients who underwent mask induction. Each patient was counted once for each type of adverse event. Adverse events reported in patients in clinical trials and considered to be possibly or probably related to sevoflurane are presented within each body system in order of decreasing frequency in the following listings. One case of malignant hyperthermia was reported in pre-registration clinical trials.
Adverse Events During the Induction Period (from Onset of Anesthesia by Mask Induction to Surgical Incision) Incidence > 1%
Adult Patients (N = 118)
Laryngospasm 8%, Airway obstruction 8%, Breathholding 5%, Cough Increased 5%
Pediatric Patients (N = 507)
Tachycardia 6%, Hypotension 4%
Breathholding 5%, Cough Increased 5%, Laryngospasm 3%, Apnea 2%
Increased salivation 2%
Adverse Events During Maintenance and Emergence Periods, Incidence > 1% (N = 2906)
Body as a whole
Fever 1%, Shivering 6%, Hypothermia 1%, Movement 1%, Headache 1%
Hypotension 11%, Hypertension 2%, Bradycardia 5%, Tachycardia 2%
Somnolence 9%, Agitation 9%, Dizziness 4%, Increased salivation 4%
Nausea 25%, Vomiting 18%
Cough increased 11%, Breathholding 2%, Laryngospasm 2%
Adverse Events, All Patients in Clinical Trials (N = 2906), All Anesthetic Periods, Incidence < 1% (Reported in 3 or More Patients)
Body as a whole
Arrhythmia, Ventricular Extrasystoles, Supraventricular Extrasystoles, Complete AV Block, Bigeminy, Hemorrhage, Inverted T Wave, Atrial Fibrillation, Atrial Arrhythmia, Second Degree AV Block, Syncope, S-T Depressed
Metabolism and Nutrition
Hemic and Lymphatic System
Skin and Special Senses
Post-Marketing Adverse Events
The following adverse events have been identified during post-approval use of Ultane (sevoflurane USP). Due to the spontaneous nature of these reports, the actual incidence and relationship of Ultane to these events cannot be established with certainty.
Seizures — Post-marketing reports indicate that sevoflurane use has been associated with seizures. The majority of cases were in children and young adults, most of whom had no medical history of seizures. Several cases reported no concomitant medications, and at least one case was confirmed by EEG. Although many cases were single seizures that resolved spontaneously or after treatment, cases of multiple seizures have also been reported. Seizures have occurred during, or soon after sevoflurane induction, during emergence, and during post-operative recovery up to a day following anesthesia.
- Cases of mild, moderate and severe post-operative hepatic dysfunction or hepatitis with or without jaundice have been reported. Histological evidence was not provided for any of the reported hepatitis cases. In most of these cases, patients had underlying hepatic conditions or were under treatment with drugs known to cause hepatic dysfunction. Most of the reported events were transient and resolved spontaneously (see PRECAUTIONS).
- Hepatic necrosis
- Hepatic failure
- Malignant hyperthermia (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS)
- Allergic reactions, such as rash, urticaria, pruritus, bronchospasm, anaphylactic or anaphylactoid reactions (see CONTRAINDICATIONS)
- Reports of hypersensitivity (including contact dermatitis, rash, dyspnea, wheezing, chest discomfort, swelling face, or anaphylactic reaction) have been received, particularly in association with long-term occupational exposure to inhaled anesthetic agents, including sevoflurane (see Occupational Caution).
- Transient elevations in glucose, liver function tests, and white blood cell count may occur as with use of other anesthetic agents.
Read the Ultane (sevoflurane) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
In clinical trials, no significant adverse reactions occurred with other drugs commonly used in the perioperative period, including: central nervous system depressants, autonomic drugs, skeletal muscle relaxants, anti-infective agents, hormones and synthetic substitutes, blood derivatives, and cardiovascular drugs.
Sevoflurane administration is compatible with barbiturates, propofol, and other commonly used intravenous anesthetics.
Benzodiazepines And Opioids
Benzodiazepines and opioids would be expected to decrease the MAC of sevoflurane in the same manner as with other inhalational anesthetics. Sevoflurane administration is compatible with benzodiazepines and opioids as commonly used in surgical practice.
As with other halogenated volatile anesthetics, the anesthetic requirement for sevoflurane is decreased when administered in combination with nitrous oxide. Using 50% N2O, the MAC equivalent dose requirement is reduced approximately 50% in adults, and approximately 25% in pediatric patients (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Neuromuscular Blocking Agents
As is the case with other volatile anesthetics, sevoflurane increases both the intensity and duration of neuromuscular blockade induced by nondepolarizing muscle relaxants. When used to supplement alfentanil-N2O anesthesia, sevoflurane and isoflurane equally potentiate neuromuscular block induced with pancuronium, vecuronium or atracurium. Therefore, during sevoflurane anesthesia, the dosage adjustments for these muscle relaxants are similar to those required with isoflurane.
Potentiation of neuromuscular blocking agents requires equilibration of muscle with delivered partial pressure of sevoflurane. Reduced doses of neuromuscular blocking agents during induction of anesthesia may result in delayed onset of conditions suitable for endotracheal intubation or inadequate muscle relaxation.
Among available nondepolarizing agents, only vecuronium, pancuronium and atracurium interactions have been studied during sevoflurane anesthesia. In the absence of specific guidelines:
- For endotracheal intubation, do not reduce the dose of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants.
- During maintenance of anesthesia, the required dose of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants is likely to be reduced compared to that during N2O/opioid anesthesia. Administration of supplemental doses of muscle relaxants should be guided by the response to nerve stimulation.
The effect of sevoflurane on the duration of depolarizing neuromuscular blockade induced by succinylcholine has not been studied.
Results of evaluations of laboratory parameters (e.g., ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase, and total bilirubin, etc.), as well as investigator-reported incidence of adverse events relating to liver function, demonstrate that sevoflurane can be administered to patients with normal or mild-tomoderately impaired hepatic function. However, patients with severe hepatic dysfunction were not investigated.
Occasional cases of transient changes in postoperative hepatic function tests were reported with both sevoflurane and reference agents. Sevoflurane was found to be comparable to isoflurane with regard to these changes in hepatic function.
Very rare cases of mild, moderate and severe post-operative hepatic dysfunction or hepatitis with or without jaundice have been reported from postmarketing experiences. Clinical judgement should be exercised when sevoflurane is used in patients with underlying hepatic conditions or under treatment with drugs known to cause hepatic dysfunction (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).
It has been reported that previous exposure to halogenated hydrocarbon anesthetics may increase the potential for hepatic injury.
Desiccated CO2 Absorbents
An exothermic reaction occurs when sevoflurane is exposed to CO2 absorbents. This reaction is increased when the CO2 absorbent becomes desiccated, such as after an extended period of dry gas flow through the CO2 absorbent canisters. Rare cases of extreme heat, smoke, and/or spontaneous fire in the anesthesia breathing circuit have been reported during sevoflurane use in conjunction with the use of desiccated CO2 absorbent, specifically those containing potassium hydroxide (e.g. Baralyme). KOH containing CO2 absorbents are not recommended for use with sevoflurane. An unusually delayed rise or unexpected decline of inspired sevoflurane concentration compared to the vaporizer setting may be associated with excessive heating of the CO2 absorbent and chemical breakdown of sevoflurane.
As with other inhalational anesthetics, degradation and production of degradation products can occur when sevoflurane is exposed to desiccated absorbents. When a clinician suspects that the CO2 absorbent may be desiccated, it should be replaced. The color indicator of most CO2 absorbents may not change upon desiccation. Therefore, the lack of significant color change should not be taken as an assurance of adequate hydration. CO2 absorbents should be replaced routinely regardless of the state of the color indicator.
Last reviewed on RxList: 4/1/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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