Comparison of Bolus Dosing of Methohexital and Propofol in Elective Direct Current Cardioversion

J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 Oct 4;11(19):e026198. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.122.026198. Epub 2022 Sep 21.


Background Methohexital and propofol can both be used as sedation for direct current cardioversion (DCCV). However, there are limited data comparing these medications in this setting. We hypothesized that patients receiving methohexital for elective DCCV would be sedated more quickly, recover from sedation faster, and experience less adverse effects. Methods and Results This was a prospective, blinded randomized controlled trial conducted at a single academic medical center. Eligible participants were randomly assigned to receive either methohexital (0.5 mg/kg) or propofol (0.8 mg/kg) as a bolus for elective DCCV. The times from bolus of the medication to achieving a Ramsay Sedation Scale score of 5 to 6, first shock, eyes opening on command, and when the patient could state their age and name were obtained. The need for additional medication dosing, airway intervention, vital signs, and medication side effects were also recorded. Seventy patients who were randomized to receive methohexital (n=37) or propofol (n=33) were included for analysis. The average doses of methohexital and propofol were 0.51 mg/kg and 0.84 mg/kg, respectively. There were no significant differences between methohexital and propofol in the time from end of injection to loss of conscious (1.4±1.8 versus 1.1±0.5 minutes; P=0.33) or the time to first shock (1.7±1.9 versus 1.4±0.5 minutes; P=0.31). Time intervals were significantly lower for methohexital compared with propofol in the time to eyes opening on command (5.1±2.5 versus 7.8±3.7 minutes; P=0.0005) as well as at the time to the ability to answer simple questions of age and name (6.0±2.6 versus 8.6±4.0 minutes; P=0.001). The methohexital group experienced less hypotension (8.1% versus 42.4%; P<0.001) and less hypoxemia (0.0% versus 15.2%; P=0.005), had lower need for jaw thrust/chin lift (16.2% versus 42.4%; P=0.015), and had less pain on injection compared with propofol using the visual analog scale (7.2±9.7 versus 22.4±28.1; P=0.003). Conclusions In this model of fixed bolus dosing, methohexital was associated with faster recovery, more stable hemodynamics, and less hypoxemia after elective DCCV compared with propofol. It can be considered as a preferred agent for sedation for DCCV. Registration URL:; Unique identifier: NCT04187196.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; electric countershock; methohexital; propofol; prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Electric Countershock / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Methohexital*
  • Propofol* / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies


  • Methohexital
  • Propofol

Associated data