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Anesth Analg. 1999 Nov;89(5):1246-9.

The effect of propofol on human gastric and colonic muscle contractions.

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Department of Anaesthesia, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


Although propofol is widely used for sedation in the intensive care unit, there are limited data on its effects on gastrointestinal motility. For that reason, we studied the in vitro effects of propofol on human gastric and colonic smooth muscle. Grossly normal human gastric and colonic muscle strips were mounted in an organ bath set-up for isometric contraction and stimulated by acetylcholine (Ach), using a cumulative dose schedule in the absence or presence of different concentrations of propofol [1.7 x 10(-6) M (0.3 microg/mL) to 4.4 x 10(-4) M (78 microg/mL)]. Ach led to concentration-dependent contraction of both gastric and colonic muscle strips, whereas propofol, at a concentration 6.7 x 10(-6) M (1.2 microg/mL) and above, significantly depressed Ach-induced contraction in a concentration-dependent manner for both smooth muscle preparations. In addition, propofol, at a concentration 2.7 x 10(-5)M (4.8 microg/mL) and above, depressed spontaneous contractile activity of both smooth muscle preparations. Fat emulsion 10% (Intralipid), the solvent for propofol, had no effect on either the spontaneous activity or the Ach-induced contraction of gastric and colonic smooth muscles.


The success of enteral feeding requires a normal gastrointestinal motility. We found that, at clinically relevant concentrations, propofol impaired gastrointestinal contractile activity. Further investigations are required to determine the clinical significance of this change.

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