A review of etomidate for rapid sequence intubation in the emergency department

J Emerg Med. 1997 Mar-Apr;15(2):221-30. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(96)00350-2.


Currently, there is no one drug that is the agent of choice for induction in rapid sequence intubation in the emergency department (ED). All agents currently used as induction agents in the ED offer distinct advantages for various clinical conditions, but each has a significant side effect profile and specific contraindications that limit its use in many common clinical settings. A review of the data available from the anesthesia literature suggests that etomidate possesses many properties that may make it the agent of choice for rapid sequence intubations in the ED. These advantages include excellent pharmacodynamics, protection from myocardial and cerebral ischemia, minimal histamine release, and a hemodynamic profile that is uniquely stable. Disadvantages include a lack of blunting of sympathetic response to intubation, a high incidence of myoclonus, prominent nausea and vomiting, potential activation of seizures in patients with epileptogenic foci, and impaired glucocorticoid response to stress. Further studies are needed to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the use of etomidate for rapid sequence intubation in the ED.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Etomidate / pharmacology
  • Etomidate / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Etomidate