By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Thiopental Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is thiopental used for?

Thiopental is a barbiturate. It works by depressing the central nervous system, causing mild sedation or sleep, depending on the dose.

Thiopental is commonly used for causing drowsiness or sleep before surgery or certain medical procedures. It is also used to stop seizures. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

How should I take thiopental?

Thiopental is usually administered as an injection at your doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic.

How do I store thiopental?

Thiopental is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using thiopental at home, store thiopental as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using thiopental?

Thiopental causes drowsiness. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to thiopental. Using thiopental alone, with certain other medicines, or with alcohol may lessen your ability to drive or perform other potentially dangerous tasks.

Thiopental may decrease the effectiveness of your birth control pill. To prevent pregnancy, be sure to use an additional form of birth control while using thiopental.

Use thiopental with caution in the elderly because they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially drowsiness, depression, or confusion.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?


There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown


Thiopental is excreted in breast milk. If you are or will be breastfeeding while you are using thiopental, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from thiopental?

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most common side effects persist or become bothersome:

  • Clumsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness

Seek medical attention right away if any of these severe side effects occur:

  • Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue)
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe dizziness
  • Slow breathing

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with thiopental?

Thiopental may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Products may interact with this drug include:

  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine), probenecid, or sodium oxybate (GHB), because side effects may be increased.
  • Aminophylline, beta-blockers (e.g., atenolol), clozapine, corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone), doxycycline, estrogens (e.g., micronized estradiol), griseofulvin, metronidazole, narcotic pain medicine (e.g., codeine), oral contraceptives (birth control pills), phenytoin, quinidine, theophylline, valproic acid, or zimelidine, because their effectiveness may be reduced by thiopental.
  • Sedatives or tranquilizers.

Does food or alcohol interact with thiopental?

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking thiopental. Thiopental will add to the effects of alcohol.

What health conditions may interact with thiopental?

Thiopental may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using thiopental.

What is the dose of thiopental for an adult?

Test dose

IV 25 to 75 mg; observe for 60 sec.


IV 50 to 75 mg slowly every 20 to 40 sec until anesthesia is established then 25 to 50 mg as needed or continuous infusion of 0.2% or 0.4%.

Convulsive states

IV 75 to 125 mg; may need 125 to 250 mg over 10 min.

Increased intracranial pressure

IV 1.5 to 3.5 mg/kg.

Psychiatric disorders

IV 100 mg/min slowly with patient counting backwards or as infusion of 50 ml/min of 0.2% solution.

Pre-anesthetic sedation

PR 1 g/34 kg (30 mg/kg).

Basal narcosis

PR 1 g/22.5 kg (44 mg/kg) (max, 3 to 4 g for adults weighing over 90 kg).

What is the dose of thiopental for a child?


  • Children, IV 5 to 6 mg/kg then 1 mg/kg as needed.
  • Infants, IV 5 to 8 mg/kg then 1 mg/kg as needed.
  • Newborns, IV 3 to 4 mg/kg then 1 mg/kg as needed.

Convulsive states

IV 2 to 3 mg/kg/dose; repeat as needed.

Increased intracranial pressure

IV 1.5 to 5 mg/kg/dose; repeat as needed.

Basal Narcosis

  • Children over 3 months, PR 25 mg/kg/dose; if not sedated within 15 to 20 min, may repeat with single dose of 15 mg/kg/dose (max, 1.15 g for children over 34 kg).
  • Children under 3 months, PR 15 mg/kg/dose; if not sedated within 15 to 20 min, may repeat with single dose of less than 7.5 mg/kg/dose.

How is thiopental available?

Thiopental is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Powder for injection 2% (20 mg/ml)
  • Powder for injection 2.5% (25 mg/ml)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of thiopental, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: December 25, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

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