Sodium nitroprusside: twenty years and counting

Anesth Analg. 1995 Jul;81(1):152-62. doi: 10.1097/00000539-199507000-00031.


SNP remains an effective, reliable, and commonly used drug for the rapid reduction of significant arterial hypertension regardless of the etiology, for afterload reduction in the face of low CO when blood volume is normal or increased, and for intraoperative induced hypotension. After establishing indwelling arterial monitoring, an initial infusion rate of 0.3-0.5 is begun with titration as needed up to 2.0 Higher rates for brief periods of time (10 min) are acceptable. The use of alternative drugs to reduce the dose or shorten the duration of infusion should be considered when the 2.0 range is exceeded (Table 1). SNP should not be used by individuals unfamiliar with its potency and metabolic pathways, as the many reports of adverse reactions testify. Careful attention to infusion rates, particularly in patients at risk for depleted thiosulfate stores, is mandatory, and the use of other drugs in conjunction with or instead of SNP should always be considered. As with many therapeutic interventions, SNP requires careful administration to appropriately selected patients by a clinician who knows its inherent hazards. Despite its toxicity, SNP is popular because it is often the most (in some cases, the only) effective drug in some difficult clinical circumstances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraindications
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Nitroprusside / adverse effects
  • Nitroprusside / metabolism
  • Nitroprusside / therapeutic use*


  • Nitroprusside