What Is Diprivan?

Diprivan and Surgery

Operating nurse soothing patient on table in operating room
Patient being prepped for surgery. Westend61 / Getty Images

What Is Diprivan?

Diprivan, or Propofol, is a short-acting sedative that is used primarily for the induction of general anesthesia and sedation in intensive care units. It is also used for minor procedures, such as dental work or a colonoscopy, that require monitored anesthesia care to keep the patient calm, pain-free and still.

Diprivan is a powerful medication, but it has a very short half-life, meaning the drug wears off very quickly.

Many sedatives linger in the body for hours or days, making Diprivan the primary drug used for short periods of sedation.

Diprivan is packaged in a fat emulsion, giving it a thick, white appearance.

How Is Diprivan Given?

Diprivan is given through an IV. It may be given once, known as a bolus, to provide sedation that lasts 5 to 10 minutes, or it may be given as an IV drip for ongoing sedation.

Why Is Diprivan Given?

Diprivan is the drug of choice in many situations for sedation. The primary reason that Diprivan is used so extensively is the short period of time that it is effective. A single injection of Diprivan provides sedation for less than 10 minutes in most patients and takes effect very quickly. It can also be used for longer periods of sedation when needed.

It is also effective at lowering intracranial pressure, or pressure building in the brain, which is a side effect of a traumatic brain injury or bleeding in the brain.

For patients with increasing intracranial pressure who require sedation, Diprivan is a natural choice as it can provide both the needed sedation and helps treat the increasing pressure.

When Is Diprivan Used?

Diprivan is used for multiple purposes, including conscious sedation for outpatient procedures, the induction of anesthesia and sedation in the intensive care setting.

Diprivan is unique in that it can be used for very short-term sedation or long-term sedation, unlike most sedatives that last can last many hours.

During surgery, Diprivan is given to sedate the patient during intubation, or the insertion of the breathing tube prior to general anesthesia. In an ICU, Diprivan is given to calm patients who are agitated or anxious, or to help the patient tolerate being on a ventilator without resisting the breaths the ventilator delivers.

Diprivan is very short acting and wears off in less than 10 minutes for most patients. This gives the medical staff greater control over the level of sedation and also allows for the patient’s neurological status to be assessed without waiting an extended period of time for the drug to wear off.

Contraindications To Diprivan

  • Diprivan should be used only in situations where close monitoring, including heart monitoring, is available.
  • Diprivan is not recommended for infants one month of age or less
  • Diprivan should not be given to children who may have a respiratory tract infection, epiglottitis (a potentially life-threatening swelling of the epiglottis), or croup.
  • Diprivan should not be given to patients with a soy or egg allergy
  • Diprivan may increase the risk of seizures in epileptic patients
  • Diprivan should not be used during pregnancy
  • Diprivan can cause respiratory arrest, requiring that the patient be closely monitored or on a ventilator
  • Diprivan can lower blood pressure and heart rate and should be used with caution in patients with low hypotension or bradycardia.
  • Diprivan should be used with caution in patients who have fat metabolizing disorders.


Diprivan 1%. Diprivan Monograph Provided by Drug Maker AstraZeneca. August 2005. http://www1.astrazeneca-us.com/pi/diprivan.pdf?redirected=yes

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