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Anesthesiology. 2003 Nov;99(5):1078-86.

Using front-end kinetics to optimize target-controlled drug infusions.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Ward 13-199, Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008, USA.



The mode of drug administration, blood sampling schedule, and sampling site affect the pharmacokinetic model derived. The present study tested the hypothesis that three-compartment pharmacokinetic model parameters derived from arterial drug concentrations obtained after rapid intravenous administration can be used to design a target-controlled drug infusion (TCI) that deviates minimally from the target.


Arterial thiopental concentration data obtained from the moment of injection in a previous study of five dogs were used. Three three-compartment models were constructed, one based on early concentrations classically obtained at 1, 2, and 3 min; another using all concentrations obtained beginning with the thiopental recirculation peak; and the last with the initial distribution volume (VC) fixed to the sum of VC and the nondistributive volume of the recirculatory model from the earlier study. Using these models, TCIs were designed that would maintain 20 mug/ml thiopental concentrations in VC for 60 min if simulated with the models used in their design. Drug concentrations resulting from these TCIs were then simulated using recirculatory model kinetics, and prediction errors were evaluated.


Models with VCs estimated from intermittent or frequent early blood concentrations overestimated not only VC but also the volume and clearance of the rapidly equilibrating tissues, and their TCIs significantly overshot the target. With VC fixed to recirculatory model parameters, drug distribution was described in a manner consistent with that of the recirculatory model, and the TCI deviated minimally from the target. A similar three-compartment model was derived from data obtained from a simulation of a 2-min infusion using recirculatory kinetic parameters.


Because three-compartment models based on drug concentration histories obtained after rapid intravenous administration do not characterize VC accurately, TCIs based on them produce concentrations exceeding the target. A model capable of producing TCIs deviating minimally from the target can be derived from data obtained during and after a brief drug infusion.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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