, Volume 51, Issue 8, pp 543-551
Date: 13 Dec 2012

Propofol Clearance in Morbidly Obese Children and Adolescents

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Background and Objective

Given the alarming increase in obesity among children undergoing surgery, the main aim of this study was to characterize propofol clearance in a cohort of morbidly obese children and adolescents in relation to their age and body weight characteristics.


A prospective pharmacokinetic study in morbidly obese children and adolescents undergoing elective surgery was conducted. Serial blood samples were collected and nonlinear mixed-effects modelling using NONMEM® was performed to characterize propofol pharmacokinetics with subsequent evaluation of age and body size descriptors.


Twenty obese and morbidly obese children and adolescents with a mean age of 16 years (range 9–18 years), a mean total body weight (TBW) of 125 kg (range 70–184 kg) and a mean body mass index of 46kg/m2 (range 31–63 kg/m2) were available for pharmacokinetic modelling using a two-compartment pharmacokinetic model (n = 294 propofol concentration measurements). Compared with lean body weight and ideal body weight, TBW proved to be the most predictive covariate for clearance [CL (L/min)= 1.70 × (TBW/70)0.8]. Central volume of distribution, peripheral volume and intercompartmental clearance were 45.2 L, 128 L and 1.75 L/min, respectively, with no predictive covariates identifiable.


In the population pharmacokinetic model for propofol in morbidly obese children and adolescents, TBW proved to be the most significant determinant for clearance. As a result, it is anticipated that dosage of propofol for maintenance of anaesthesia in morbidly obese children and adolescents should be based on TBW using an allometric function.

Trial registration number (clinicaltrials.gov)