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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Detailed Drug Information (USP DI) > Anesthetics, General

Anesthetics, General (Systemic)

Description and Brand Names | Before Using | Proper Use | Precautions | Side Effects | Additional Information

  • Anesthetic, general

General anesthetics (an-ess-THET-iks) normally are used to produce loss of consciousness before and during surgery. However, for obstetrics (labor and delivery) or certain minor procedures, an anesthetic may be given in small amounts to relieve anxiety or pain without causing unconsciousness. Some of the anesthetics may be used for certain procedures in a medical doctor's or dentist's office.

Propofol is used sometimes in patients in intensive care units in hospitals to cause unconsciousness. This may allow the patients to withstand the stress of being in the intensive care unit and help the patients cooperate when a machine must be used to assist with breathing. However, propofol should not be used in children in intensive care units.

Thiopental also is sometimes used to control convulsions (seizures) caused by certain medicines or seizure disorders. Thiopental may be used to reduce pressure on the brain in certain conditions. Thiopental also is used to help treat some mental disorders. Thiopental may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

General anesthetics are usually given by inhalation or by injection into a vein. However, certain anesthetics may be given rectally to help produce sleep before surgery or certain other procedures. Although most general anesthetics can be used by themselves in producing loss of consciousness, some are often used together. This allows for more effective anesthesia in certain patients.

General anesthetics are given only by or under the immediate supervision of a medical doctor or dentist trained to use them . If you will be receiving a general anesthetic during surgery, your doctor or anesthesiologist will give you the medicine and closely follow your progress.

General anesthetics are available in the following dosage forms:

  • Enflurane
    • Inhalation (U.S. and Canada)
  • Halothane
    • Inhalation (U.S. and Canada)
  • Isoflurane
    • Inhalation (U.S. and Canada)
  • Methoxyflurane
    • Inhalation (U.S.)
  • Nitrous oxide
    • Inhalation (U.S. and Canada)
  • Etomidate
    • Injection (U.S.)
  • Ketamine
    • Injection (U.S. and Canada)
  • Methohexital
    • Injection (U.S. and Canada)
  • Propofol
    • Injectable emulsion (U.S. and Canada)
  • Thiopental
    • Injection (U.S. and Canada)
  • Methohexital
    • Rectal solution (U.S. and Canada)
  • Thiopental
    • Rectal solution (U.S. and Canada)
    • Rectal suspension (U.S.)

Brand Names

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S. -

  • Amidate 2
  • Brevital 6
  • Diprivan 9
  • Ethrane 1
  • Fluothane 3
  • Forane 4
  • Ketalar 5
  • Penthrane 7
  • Pentothal 10

In Canada -

  • Brietal 6
  • Diprivan 9
  • Ethrane 1
  • Fluothane 3
  • Forane 4
  • Ketalar 5
  • Pentothal 10

Other commonly used names are: Methohexitone and Thiopentone


For quick reference, the following general anesthetics are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following medicines:
1. Enflurane (EN-floo-rane)‡
2. Etomidate (e-TOM-i-date)†
3. Halothane (HA-loe-thane)‡
4. Isoflurane (eye-soe-FLURE-ane)
5. Ketamine (KEET-a-meen)
6. Methohexital (meth-oh-HEX-i-tal)
7. Methoxyflurane (meth-ox-ee-FLOO-rane)
8. Nitrous Oxide (NYE-trus)‡§
9. Propofol (PROE-po-fole)
10. Thiopental (thye-oh-PEN-tal)‡
† Not commercially available in Canada
‡ Generic name product may be available in the U.S.
§ Generic name product may be available in Canada


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Anesthetics, General: Before Using

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