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Procedural sedation with propofol for emergency DC cardioversion
  1. Philip Kaye1,
  2. Matthew Govier2
  1. 1Emergency Department, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK
  2. 2Anaesthetic Department, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philip Kaye, Emergency Department, Royal United Hospital, Combe Park, Bath BA1 3NG, UK; philip_bath{at}


Many emergency patients present with cardiac arrhythmias requiring emergency direct current countershock cardioversion (DCCV) as a part of their management. Almost all require sedation to facilitate the procedure. Propofol has been used for procedural sedation in Emergency Medicine since 1995. In 1996, in a review article in Anaesthesia, it was recommended as the drug which most closely approaches the ideal agent for DCCV. However, the existing evidence for the dosage requirements and safety of propofol in emergency DCCV is limited. We report a prospective case series of patients who underwent sedation-facilitated DCCV using propofol in the emergency department with both sedation and DCCV delivered by emergency physicians. The results indicate propofol is a safe drug for procedural sedation to facilitate emergency DCCV in patients with an atrial tachyarrhythmia without any evidence of haemodynamic compromise. A dose of 1 mg/kg appears to be safe in the majority of these patients. Using the adverse event reporting tool produced by the World SIVA International Sedation Task Force there were no moderate or sentinel adverse events in these patients. A reduced dose should be considered in older patients to prevent transient complications. Propofol at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg appears to be a safe drug for procedural sedation to facilitate emergent or urgent DCCV in patients with an atrial tachyarrhythmia with evidence of haemodynamic compromise. There were no sentinel adverse events associated with its use. Evidence to support the use of propofol to facilitate emergency DCCV for ventricular tachycardia is limited.

  • arrythmia
  • cardiac care, treatment
  • anaesthesia - general

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