The Brain Trauma Foundation. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons. The Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care. Use of barbiturates in the control of intracranial hypertension

J Neurotrauma. 2000 Jun-Jul;17(6-7):527-30. doi: 10.1089/neu.2000.17.527.


High-dose barbiturate therapy is efficacious in lowering ICP and decreasing mortality in the setting of uncontrollable ICP refractory to all other conventional medical and surgical ICP-lowering treatments. Utilization of barbiturates for the prophylactic treatment of ICP is not indicated. The potential complications attendant on this form of therapy mandate that its use be limited to critical care providers and that appropriate systemic monitoring be undertaken to avoid or treat any hemodynamic instability. When barbiturate coma is utilized, consideration should also be given to monitoring arteriovenous oxygen saturation as some patients treated in this fashion may develop oligemic cerebral hypoxia.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Barbiturates / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Intracranial Hypertension / etiology
  • Intracranial Hypertension / prevention & control*


  • Barbiturates