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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Subhypnotic doses of propofol relieve pruritus associated with liver disease.

BACKGROUND: Pruritus is a severe and troublesome symptom in patients with cholestasis and is often difficult to treat. Propofol was recently shown to be efficient in relieving pruritus secondary to spinal morphine administration. The efficacy of propofol was therefore investigated in patients with pruritus associated with liver disease. METHODS: In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled study, 10 patients received 2 doses of propofol (1.5 mL = 15 mg) and 2 doses of placebo (1.5 mL of Intralipid, Kabi-Pharm., Helsinki, Finland) during a 4-day study period. Pruritus was assessed by a verbal rating score from 0 (no pruritus) to 10 (most severe pruritus imaginable). Treatment success was defined as a decrease of pruritus of at least 4 points in the verbal rating score. RESULTS: Treatment success was achieved in 85% of the patients receiving propofol and in 10% of those receiving Intralipid (P < 0.01). Discomfort on injection (15%) and slight dizziness (10%) were observed with propofol treatment. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that subhypnotic doses of propofol are effective for the short-term symptomatic relief of pruritus associated with liver disease. At the dose used, side effects were rare and minor.[1]


  1. Subhypnotic doses of propofol relieve pruritus associated with liver disease. Borgeat, A., Wilder-Smith, O.H., Mentha, G. Gastroenterology (1993) [Pubmed]
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