Propofol is frequently used for outpatient sedation for pediatric patients, some of whom require multiple rounds of sedation for separate procedures within a short period. Anecdotal experience suggests that frequent use of propofol results in escalating doses; however, clinical evidence is unconvincing. This study was designed to evaluate if tolerance develops with frequent administration of propofol for children requiring multiple successive sedations.
A retrospective chart review of patients requiring multiple doses of propofol for separate procedures from 2011 through 2019 was conducted. Cumulative propofol dose and induction dose were analyzed using a mixed model for patients requiring sedation for serial procedures.
Data from 24 different patients who required 3 or more sedations during the study period were analyzed. The number of sedations ranged from 3 to 28. The mean total propofol dose rate was 0.19 ± 0.14 mg/kg/min, and the mean induction dose was 3.2 ± 0.97 mg/kg. The total doses and induction doses were not statistically significantly different at different sedations (p = 0.089 and 0.180, respectively). There was a statistically significant decrease in the total dose as the time interval between 2 sedations increased (p < 0.001).
Repeated administrations of propofol at time intervals used in outpatient sedation do not lead to the development of tolerance. A small decrease per day interval may be significant when propofol is used more frequently (multiple times per day or as a continuous drip) in an ICU setting.