Prescription Drug Information: Sevoflurane (Page 2 of 3)


Sevoflurane, USP is indicated for induction and maintenance of general anesthesia in adult and pediatric patients for inpatient and outpatient surgery.

Sevoflurane, USP should be administered only by persons trained in the administration of general anesthesia. Facilities for maintenance of a patent airway, artificial ventilation, oxygen enrichment, and circulatory resuscitation must be immediately available. Since level of anesthesia may be altered rapidly, only vaporizers producing predictable concentrations of sevoflurane should be used.


  • Known or suspected susceptibility to malignant hyperthermia.
  • Known or suspected sensitivity to sevoflurane or to other halogenated inhalational anesthetics.


Risk of Renal Injury

Although data from controlled clinical studies at low flow rates are limited, findings taken from patient and animal studies suggest that there is a potential for renal injury which is presumed due to Compound A. Animal and human studies demonstrate that sevoflurane administered for more than 2 MACꞏhours and at fresh gas flow rates of < 2 L/min may be associated with proteinuria and glycosuria.

While a level of Compound A exposure at which clinical nephrotoxicity might be expected to occur has not been established, it is prudent to consider all of the factors leading to Compound A exposure in humans, especially duration of exposure, fresh gas flow rate, and concentration of sevoflurane. During sevoflurane anesthesia the clinician should adjust inspired concentration and fresh gas flow rate to minimize exposure to Compound A. To minimize exposure to Compound A, sevoflurane exposure should not exceed 2 MACꞏhours at flow rates of 1 to < 2 L/min. Fresh gas flow rates < 1 L/min are not recommended.

Because clinical experience in administering sevoflurane to patients with renal insufficiency (creatinine > 1.5 mg/dL) is limited, its safety in these patients has not been established.

Sevoflurane may be associated with glycosuria and proteinuria when used for long procedures at low flow rates. The safety of low flow sevoflurane on renal function was evaluated in patients with normal preoperative renal function. One study compared sevoflurane (N = 98) to an active control (N = 90) administered for ≥ 2 hours at a fresh gas flow rate of ≤ 1 Liter/minute. Per study defined criteria, one patient in the sevoflurane group developed elevations of creatinine, in addition to glycosuria and proteinuria. This patient received sevoflurane at fresh gas flow rates of ≤ 800 mL/minute. Using these same criteria, there were no patients in the active control group who developed treatment emergent elevations in serum creatinine.

Sevoflurane may present an increased risk in patients with known sensitivity to volatile halogenated anesthetic agents. KOH containing CO 2 absorbents are not recommended for use with sevoflurane.

Risk of Respiratory Depression

Sevoflurane may cause respiratory depression, which may be augmented by opioid premedication or other agents causing respiratory depression. Monitor respiration and, if necessary, assist with ventilation (see PRECAUTIONS).

Risk of QT Prolongation

Reports of QT prolongation, associated with torsade de pointes (in exceptional cases, fatal), have been received. Caution should be exercised when administering sevoflurane to susceptible patients (e.g., patients with congenital Long QT Syndrome or patients taking drugs that can prolong the QT interval).

Malignant Hyperthermia

In susceptible individuals, potent inhalation anesthetic agents, including sevoflurane, may trigger a skeletal muscle hypermetabolic state leading to high oxygen demand and the clinical syndrome known as malignant hyperthermia. Sevoflurane can induce malignant hyperthermia in genetically susceptible individuals, such as those with certain inherited ryanodine receptor mutations. The clinical syndrome is signaled by hypercapnia, and may include muscle rigidity, tachycardia, tachypnea, cyanosis, arrhythmias, and/or unstable blood pressure. Some of these nonspecific signs may also appear during light anesthesia, acute hypoxia, hypercapnia, and hypovolemia.

In clinical studies, one case of malignant hyperthermia was reported. In addition, there have been postmarketing reports of malignant hyperthermia. Some of these cases have been fatal.

Treatment of malignant hyperthermia includes discontinuation of triggering agents (e.g., sevoflurane), administration of intravenous dantrolene sodium (consult prescribing information for intravenous dantrolene sodium for additional information on patient management), and application of supportive therapy. Supportive therapy may include efforts to restore body temperature, respiratory and circulatory support as indicated, and management of electrolyte- fluid-acid-base abnormalities. Renal failure may appear later, and urine flow should be monitored and sustained if possible.

Perioperative Hyperkalemia

Use of inhaled anesthetic agents has been associated with rare increases in serum potassium levels that have resulted in cardiac arrhythmias and death in pediatric patients during the postoperative period. Patients with latent as well as overt neuromuscular disease, particularly Duchenne muscular dystrophy, appear to be most vulnerable. Concomitant use of succinylcholine has been associated with most, but not all, of these cases.

These patients also experienced significant elevations in serum creatine kinase levels and, in some cases, changes in urine consistent with myoglobinuria. Despite the similarity in presentation to malignant hyperthermia, none of these patients exhibited signs or symptoms of muscle rigidity or hypermetabolic state. Early and aggressive intervention to treat the hyperkalemia and resistant arrhythmias is recommended as is subsequent evaluation for latent neuromuscular disease.

Pediatric Neurotoxicity

Published animal studies demonstrate that the administration of anesthetic and sedation drugs that block NMDA receptors and/or potentiate GABA activity increase neuronal apoptosis in the developing brain and result in long-term cognitive deficits when used for longer than 3 hours.

The clinical significance of these findings is not clear. However, based on the available data, the window of vulnerability to these changes is believed to correlate with exposures in the third trimester of gestation through the first several months of life, but may extend out to approximately three years of age in humans (see PRECAUTIONS — Pregnancy, PRECAUTIONS — Pediatric Use, ANIMAL TOXICOLOGY AND/OR PHARMACOLOGY).

Some published studies in children suggest that similar deficits may occur after repeated or prolonged exposures to anesthetic agents early in life and may result in adverse cognitive or behavioral effects. These studies have substantial limitations, and it is not clear if the observed effects are due to the anesthetic/sedation drug administration or other factors such as the surgery or underlying illness.

Anesthetic and sedation drugs are a necessary part of the care of children needing surgery, other procedures, or tests that cannot be delayed, and no specific medications have been shown to be safer than any other. Decisions regarding the timing of any elective procedures requiring anesthesia should take into consideration the benefits of the procedure weighed against the potential risks.

Bradycardia in Down Syndrome

Episodes of severe bradycardia and cardiac arrest, not related to underlying congenital heart disease, have been reported during anesthesia induction with sevoflurane in pediatric patients with Down syndrome. In most cases, bradycardia improved with decreasing the concentration of sevoflurane, manipulating the airway, or administering an anticholinergic or epinephrine.

During induction, closely monitor heart rate, and consider incrementally increasing the inspired sevoflurane concentration until a suitable level of anesthesia is achieved. Consider having an anticholinergic and epinephrine available when administering sevoflurane for induction in this patient population.

Risk of Driving and Operating Machinery

Performance of activities requiring mental alertness, such as driving or operating machinery, may be impaired after sevoflurane anesthesia.


During the maintenance of anesthesia, increasing the concentration of sevoflurane produces dose-dependent decreases in blood pressure. Due to sevoflurane’s insolubility in blood, these hemodynamic changes may occur more rapidly than with other volatile anesthetics. Excessive decreases in blood pressure or respiratory depression may be related to depth of anesthesia and may be corrected by decreasing the inspired concentration of sevoflurane.

Rare cases of seizures have been reported in association with sevoflurane use (see PRECAUTIONS — Pediatric Use, ADVERSE REACTIONS).

The recovery from general anesthesia should be assessed carefully before a patient is discharged from the post-anesthesia care unit.

Information for Patients

Risk of Driving and Operating Machinery

Advise patients that performance of activities requiring mental alertness, such as driving or operating machinery, may be impaired after sevoflurane anesthesia (see WARNINGS).

Effect of anesthetic and sedation drugs on early brain development

Studies conducted in young animals and children suggest repeated or prolonged use of general anesthetic or sedation drugs in children younger than 3 years may have negative effects on their developing brains. Discuss with parents and caregivers the benefits, risks, and timing and duration of surgery or procedures requiring anesthetic and sedation drugs (see WARNINGS — Pediatric Neurotoxicity).

Drug Interactions

In clinical studies, no significant adverse reactions occurred with other drugs commonly used in the perioperative period, including central nervous system depressants, autonomic drugs, skeletal muscle relaxants, anti-infective agents, hormones and synthetic substitutes, blood derivatives, and cardiovascular drugs.


Epinephrine administered with sevoflurane may increase the risk of ventricular arrhythmias. Monitor the electrocardiogram and blood pressure and ensure emergency medications to treat ventricular arrhythmias are readily available.

Calcium antagonists

Sevoflurane may lead to marked hypotension in patients treated with calcium antagonists. Blood pressure should be closely monitored and emergency medications to treat hypotension should be readily available when calcium antagonists are used concomitantly with sevoflurane.

In animals, impairment of atrioventricular conduction has been observed when verapamil and sevoflurane are administered concomitantly.


See WARNINGS — Perioperative Hyperkalemia.

Non-selective MAO-inhibitors

Concomitant use of MAO inhibitors and inhalational anesthetics may increase the risk of hemodynamic instability during surgery or medical procedures.

Intravenous Anesthetics

Sevoflurane administration is compatible with barbiturates, propofol, and other commonly used intravenous anesthetics.

Benzodiazepines and Opioids

Benzodiazepines and opioids would be expected to decrease the MAC of sevoflurane in the same manner as with other inhalational anesthetics. Sevoflurane administration is compatible with benzodiazepines and opioids as commonly used in surgical practice.

Nitrous Oxide

As with other halogenated volatile anesthetics, the anesthetic requirement for sevoflurane is decreased when administered in combination with nitrous oxide. Using 50% N 2 O, the MAC equivalent dose requirement is reduced approximately 50% in adults, and approximately 25% in pediatric patients (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Neuromuscular Blocking Agents

As is the case with other volatile anesthetics, sevoflurane increases both the intensity and duration of neuromuscular blockade induced by nondepolarizing muscle relaxants. When used to supplement alfentanil-N 2 O anesthesia, sevoflurane and isoflurane equally potentiate neuromuscular block induced with pancuronium, vecuronium or atracurium. Therefore, during sevoflurane anesthesia, the dosage adjustments for these muscle relaxants are similar to those required with isoflurane.

Potentiation of neuromuscular blocking agents requires equilibration of muscle with delivered partial pressure of sevoflurane. Reduced doses of neuromuscular blocking agents during induction of anesthesia may result in delayed onset of conditions suitable for endotracheal intubation or inadequate muscle relaxation.

Among available nondepolarizing agents, only vecuronium, pancuronium and atracurium interactions have been studied during sevoflurane anesthesia. In the absence of specific guidelines:

1. For endotracheal intubation, do not reduce the dose of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants.
2. During maintenance of anesthesia, the required dose of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants is likely to be reduced compared to that during N 2 O/opioid anesthesia. Administration of supplemental doses of muscle relaxants should be guided by the response to nerve stimulation.

The effect of sevoflurane on the duration of depolarizing neuromuscular blockade induced by succinylcholine has not been studied.

Hepatic Function

Results of evaluations of laboratory parameters (e.g., ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase, and total bilirubin, etc.), as well as investigator-reported incidence of adverse events relating to liver function, demonstrate that sevoflurane can be administered to patients with normal or mild-to- moderately impaired hepatic function. However, patients with severe hepatic dysfunction were not investigated.

Occasional cases of transient changes in postoperative hepatic function tests were reported with both sevoflurane and reference agents. Sevoflurane was found to be comparable to isoflurane regarding these changes in hepatic function.

Cases of mild, moderate, and severe hepatic dysfunction or hepatitis (e.g., jaundice associated with fever and/or eosinophilia) after anesthesia with sevoflurane have been reported.

Clinical judgement should be exercised when sevoflurane is used in patients with underlying hepatic conditions or under treatment with drugs known to cause hepatic dysfunction (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).

It has been reported that previous exposure to halogenated hydrocarbon anesthetics may increase the potential for hepatic injury.

Desiccated CO 2 Absorbents

An exothermic reaction occurs when sevoflurane is exposed to CO 2 absorbents. This reaction is increased when the CO 2 absorbent becomes desiccated, such as after an extended period of dry gas flow through the CO 2 absorbent canisters. Rare cases of extreme heat, smoke, and/or spontaneous fire in the anesthesia breathing circuit have been reported during sevoflurane use in conjunction with the use of desiccated CO 2 absorbent, specifically those containing potassium hydroxide (e.g., Baralyme). KOH containing CO 2 absorbents are not recommended for use with sevoflurane. An unusually delayed rise or unexpected decline of inspired sevoflurane concentration compared to the vaporizer setting may be associated with excessive heating of the CO 2 absorbent and chemical breakdown of sevoflurane.

As with other inhalational anesthetics, degradation and production of degradation products can occur when sevoflurane is exposed to desiccated absorbents. When a clinician suspects that the CO 2 absorbent may be desiccated, it should be replaced. The color indicator of most CO 2 absorbents may not change upon desiccation. Therefore, the lack of significant color change should not be taken as an assurance of adequate hydration. CO 2 absorbents should be replaced routinely regardless of the state of the color indicator.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


Studies on carcinogenesis have not been performed for either sevoflurane or Compound A.


No mutagenic effect of sevoflurane was noted in the Ames test, mouse micronucleus test, mouse lymphoma mutagenicity assay, human lymphocyte culture assay, mammalian cell transformation assay, 32 P DNA adduct assay, and no chromosomal aberrations were induced in cultured mammalian cells.

Similarly, no mutagenic effect of Compound A was noted in the Ames test, the Chinese hamster chromosomal aberration assay and the in vivo mouse micronucleus assay. However, positive responses were observed in the human lymphocyte chromosome aberration assay. These responses were seen only at high concentrations and in the absence of metabolic activation (human S-9).

Impairment of Fertility

In a study in which male rats were treated with sevoflurane (0.22%, 0.66%, 1.1%, or 2.2% equals 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, or 1.0 MAC) three hours per day every other day starting 64 days prior to mating and female rats were treated with the same dosing regimen 14 days prior to mating until Gestation Day 7, there was no clear impact on male or female fertility.


Risk Summary

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

In animal reproduction studies, reduced fetal weights were noted following exposure to 1 MAC sevoflurane for three hours a day during organogenesis. Developmental and reproductive toxicity studies of sevoflurane in animals in the presence of strong alkalies (i.e., degradation of sevoflurane and production of Compound A) have not been conducted. Published studies in pregnant primates demonstrate that the administration of anesthetic and sedation drugs that block NMDA receptors and/or potentiate GABA activity during the period of peak brain development increases neuronal apoptosis in the developing brain of the offspring when used for longer than 3 hours. There are no data on pregnancy exposures in primates corresponding to periods prior to the third trimester in humans.

The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2-4% and 15-20%, respectively.


Animal Data

Pregnant rats were treated with sevoflurane (0.22%, 0.66%, or 2.2% equals 0.1, 0.3, or 1.0 MAC) without CO 2 absorbent for three hours per day during organogenesis (from Gestation Day 7 to 17). Fetuses obtained by Cesarean section were examined on Gestation Day 20 while some animals were maintained for littering and pups were examined for adverse effects. There were no adverse effects on fetuses at 0.3 MAC. Reduced fetal body weights and increased skeletal variations such as delayed ossifications in the presence of maternal toxicity (reduced food and water intake and body weight of the dams) were noted at 1 MAC. In dams allowed to litter, reduced pup bodyweight gain and evidence of developmental delays (slight delay in eyelid opening and increased incidence of nonreactive animals in the visual placing reflex test) were noted in the 1.0 MAC treatment group.

Pregnant rabbits were treated with sevoflurane (0.1, 0.3, or 1.0 MAC) without CO 2 absorbent for three hours per day during organogenesis (from Gestation Day 6 to 18). There were no adverse effects on the fetus at any dose; the mid- and high-dose produced a 5% and 6% decrease in maternal body weight, respectively.

In another study, pregnant rats were administered sevoflurane (0.1, 0.3, or 1.0 MAC) from Gestation Day 17 to Postnatal Day 21. Pup body weights were reduced in the 1.0 MAC treatment group in the absence of maternal toxicity. There was no effect of sevoflurane on sensory function (visual, auditory, nociception, righting reflexes), motor (roto-rod), open field test, or learning tasks (shuttle box avoidance and water T-maze).

In a published study in primates, administration of an anesthetic dose of ketamine for 24 hours on Gestation Day 122 increased neuronal apoptosis in the developing brain of the fetus. In other published studies, administration of either isoflurane or propofol for 5 hours on Gestation Day 120 resulted in increased neuronal and oligodendrocyte apoptosis in the developing brain of the offspring. With respect to brain development, this time period corresponds to the third trimester of gestation in the human. The clinical significance of these findings is not clear; however, studies in juvenile animals suggest neuroapoptosis correlates with long-term cognitive deficits (see WARNINGS — Pediatric Neurotoxicity, PRECAUTIONS — Pediatric Use, ANIMAL TOXICOLOGY AND/OR PHARMACOLOGY).

Labor and Delivery

Sevoflurane has been used in clinical studies, as part of general anesthesia for elective cesarean section, in 29 women. There were no untoward effects in mother or neonate (see CLINICAL STUDIES). The safety of sevoflurane in labor and delivery has not been demonstrated.

Sevoflurane can cause uterine smooth muscle relaxation and may contribute to uterine atony.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether sevoflurane or its metabolites are present in human milk. To minimize infant exposure to sevoflurane or its metabolites, a nursing mother may temporarily pump, and discard breast milk produced during the first 24 hours after administration of sevoflurane.

Exercise caution when administering sevoflurane to a nursing mother.

Geriatric Use

MAC decreases with increasing age. The average concentration of sevoflurane to achieve MAC in an 80 year old is approximately 50% of that required in a 20 year old.

Pediatric Use

Induction and maintenance of general anesthesia with sevoflurane have been established in controlled clinical studies in pediatric patients aged 1 to 18 years (see CLINICAL STUDIES, ADVERSE REACTIONS). Sevoflurane has a nonpungent odor and is suitable for mask induction in pediatric patients.

The concentration of sevoflurane required for maintenance of general anesthesia is age dependent. When used in combination with nitrous oxide, the MAC equivalent dose of sevoflurane should be reduced in pediatric patients. MAC in premature infants has not been determined (see PRECAUTIONS — Drug Interactions, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION for recommendations in pediatric patients 1 day of age and older).

The use of sevoflurane has been associated with seizures (see PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE REACTIONS). The majority of these have occurred in children and young adults starting from 2 months of age, most of whom had no predisposing risk factors. Clinical judgement should be exercised when using sevoflurane in patients who may be at risk for seizures.

Cases of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias have been reported in pediatric patients with Pompe disease (also commonly known as glycogen storage disease type II or acid altase deficiency). In a published case series about a clinical trial of patients with infantile-onset Pompe disease, six percent of patients (9 of 139, with 6 of 9 having received sevoflurane) experienced arrhythmias after induction of anesthesia. Reported arrythmias included severe bradycardia, torsade de pointes, and fatal ventricular fibrillation, which usually resolved after treatment with pharmacologic agents and defibrillation. Avoid induction and maintenance of anesthesia using sole agents, such as sevoflurane, that decrease systemic vascular resistance or diastolic blood pressure.

Published juvenile animal studies demonstrate that the administration of anesthetic and sedation drugs, such as sevoflurane, that either block NMDA receptors or potentiate the activity of GABA during the period of rapid brain growth or synaptogenesis, results in widespread neuronal and oligodendrocyte cell loss in the developing brain and alterations in synaptic morphology and neurogenesis. Based on comparisons across species, the window of vulnerability to these changes is believed to correlate with exposures in the third trimester of gestation through the first several months of life, but may extend out to approximately 3 years of age in humans.

In primates, exposure to 3 hours of ketamine that produced a light surgical plane of anesthesia did not increase neuronal cell loss; however, treatment regimens of 5 hours or longer of isoflurane increased neuronal cell loss. Data from isoflurane-treated rodents and ketamine- treated primates suggest that the neuronal and oligodendrocyte cell losses are associated with prolonged cognitive deficits in learning and memory. The clinical significance of these nonclinical findings is not known, and healthcare providers should balance the benefits of appropriate anesthesia in pregnant women, neonates, and young children who require procedures with the potential risks suggested by the nonclinical data (see WARNINGS — Pediatric Neurotoxicity, PRECAUTIONS — Pregnancy, ANIMAL TOXICOLOGY AND/OR PHARMACOLOGY).

Use in Pediatric Patients with Down Syndrome
See WARNINGS — Bradycardia in Down Syndrome. provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed prescription drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by Every individual prescription drug label and package insert entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

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