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Thiopental Sodium



Thiopental sodium is used as general anesthesia with an inhaled medication to prevent pain or to relax muscles, to control fits and to reduce intracranial (skull cavity) pressure.

How it works

Thiopental sodium belongs to a class of drugs called barbiturates. It works by depressing the central nervous system, causing mild sedation or sleep, depending on the dose.

Common side effects

Vomiting, Nausea, Body temperature decreased, Reduced brain function, Cough, Decreased blood pressure, Dizziness, Drowsiness, Fatigue, Headache, Loss of appetite, Feeling of discomfort, Shivering, Sneezing, Brochospasm, Delirium (acute confusional state)


Expert advice

  • Take special care if you have heart disease, circulatory problems, anemia, increased pressure in brain, muscle weakness or degeneration, thyroid problems, asthma, burns, shock.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery especially during the first 24 to 36 hours after the injection as thiopental cause drowsiness and disorientation.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or taking other medications that cause drowsiness (eg, sedatives, tranquilizers) while taking thiopental as it may lead to serious side effects.
  • Ensure that you practice additional pregnancy control methods as thiopental may decrease the effectiveness of the birth control pills.
  • Use thiopental with caution if you are an elderly patient, as you may be more sensitive to its effects, especially drowsiness, depression, or confusion.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions

Thiopental Sodium

Q. How does sodium thiopental work as a truth serum?
Sodium thiopental alters certain functions in the brain to make the person incapable of lying and he/she may speak only the truth.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)