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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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 46 kg/m(2) (range 31-63 kg/m(2)) 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.
Conclusion: 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: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00948597.