Is there a role of a small dose of propofol in the treatment of laryngeal spasm?

Paediatr Anaesth. 2002 Sep;12(7):625-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9592.2002.00937.x.


Background: Propofol has been found to depress the laryngeal reflexes. We studied whether this property could be utilized to relieve laryngeal spasm.

Methods: This study was conducted over a period of 3 years, and included children aged 3-10 years, ASA status I and II. Most of the children were undergoing minor surgical procedures, under general anaesthesia with Laryngeal Mask Airway (LMA trade mark ) and caudal epidural analgesia.

Results: During this period, 20 patients developed laryngeal spasm on removal of the LMA at the end of surgery. Initially, they all were treated with 100% O2, with gentle positive pressure ventilation. Out of 20 patients, seven responded well with 100% O2 and gentle positive pressure ventilation. The remaining 13 were treated with a small dose of propofol (0.8 body weight). Laryngeal spasm was relieved successfully in 10 patients and three patients required intubation to improve their oxygenation.

Conclusions: Propofol in a small dose (0.8 body weight) was a useful drug to relieve laryngeal spasm in most children (76.9%) following the removal of the LMA. Because it was not found to be effective in all patients, succinylcholine still has a role to play in critical conditions. However, we recommend propofol as a suitable alternative for relieving laryngeal spasm in situations where succinylcholine is contraindicated.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Masks / adverse effects*
  • Laryngismus / drug therapy*
  • Laryngismus / etiology
  • Laryngismus / therapy
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Propofol / administration & dosage*


  • Propofol