Sedative Dose for Rapid Sequence Intubation and Postintubation Hypotension: Is There an Association?

Ann Emerg Med. 2023 Oct;82(4):417-424. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.05.014. Epub 2023 Jun 30.


Study objective: For patients with hemodynamic instability undergoing rapid sequence intubation, experts recommend reducing the sedative medication dose to minimize the risk of further hemodynamic deterioration. Scant data support this practice for etomidate and ketamine. We sought to determine if the dose of etomidate or ketamine was independently associated with postintubation hypotension.

Methods: We analyzed data from the National Emergency Airway Registry from January 2016 to December 2018. Patients aged 14 years or older were included if the first intubation attempt was facilitated with etomidate or ketamine. We used multivariable modeling to determine whether drug dose in milligrams per kilogram of patient weight was independently associated with postintubation hypotension (systolic blood pressure < 100 mm Hg).

Results: We analyzed 12,175 intubation encounters facilitated by etomidate and 1,849 facilitated by ketamine. The median drug doses were 0.28 mg/kg (interquartile range [IQR] 0.22 mg/kg to 0.32 mg/kg) for etomidate and 1.33 mg/kg (IQR 1 mg/kg to 1.8 mg/kg) for ketamine. Postintubation hypotension occurred in 1,976 patients (16.2%) who received etomidate and in 537 patients (29.0%) who received ketamine. In multivariable models, neither the etomidate dose (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.95, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.90 to 1.01) nor ketamine dose (aOR 0.97, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.17) was associated with postintubation hypotension. Results were similar in sensitivity analyses excluding patients with preintubation hypotension and including only patients intubated for shock.

Conclusion: In this large registry of patients intubated after receiving either etomidate or ketamine, we observed no association between the weight-based sedative dose and postintubation hypotension.

MeSH terms

  • Etomidate* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Hypotension* / drug therapy
  • Hypotension* / etiology
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Ketamine* / adverse effects
  • Rapid Sequence Induction and Intubation
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Etomidate
  • Ketamine