Analytic reviews: propofol infusion syndrome in the ICU

J Intensive Care Med. 2011 Mar-Apr;26(2):59-72. doi: 10.1177/0885066610384195.


Propofol is an alkylphenol derivative named 2, 6, diisopropylphenol and is a potent intravenous short-acting hypnotic agent. It is commonly used as sedation, as well as an anesthetic agent in both pediatric and adult patient populations. There have been numerous case reports describing a constellation of findings including metabolic derangements and organ system failures known collectively as propofol infusion syndrome (PRIS). Although there is a high mortality associated with PRIS, the precise mechanism of action has yet to be determined. The best preventive measure for this syndrome is awareness and avoidance of clinical scenarios associated with development of PRIS. There is no established treatment for PRIS; care is primarily supportive in nature and may include the full array of advanced cardiopulmonary support, including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). This article reviews the reported cases of PRIS and describes the current understanding of the underlying pathophysiology and treatment options.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Critical Care*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / chemically induced*
  • Multiple Organ Failure / diagnosis
  • Multiple Organ Failure / therapy
  • Propofol / administration & dosage
  • Propofol / adverse effects*
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Syndrome


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Propofol