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Br J Anaesth. 2008 Aug;101(2):207-12. doi: 10.1093/bja/aen134. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Recovery and long-term renal excretion of propofol, its glucuronide, and two di-isopropylquinol glucuronides after propofol infusion during surgery.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, University Lung Clinic Dekkerswald, Groesbeek, The Netherlands.



The metabolism of the short-acting anaesthetic agent propofol has been described over the first 24 h. However, the long-term disposition of propofol and its metabolites is unclear. We describe the pharmacokinetics (renal excretion rates and renal clearance) of propofol and its metabolites over 60 h.


Ten patients undergoing lung surgery were included in the study. They received anaesthesia with continuous i.v. propofol at an average rate of 10 mg min(-1). During surgery and 60 h thereafter, we sampled blood and urine. Propofol and its metabolites were measured using gradient high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).


In nine patients, propofol and its glucuronides were found in the plasma over the first 15 h. In the urine, however, even after 60 h, propofol and its quinol glucuronides were still detectable. One patient had a markedly different pharmacokinetic profile, showing a limited renal excretion or absorption of 12% of the dose.


After an infusion of propofol, patients excrete propofol and its metabolites in the urine over a period in excess of 60 h. We hypothesize that (re)absorption of propofol and its metabolites by the kidney is a major process in elimination and that the reabsorbed compounds are gradually conjugated in the kidney and excreted in the urine. One patient showed a different pharmacokinetic profile for which we currently have no explanation.

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