Pentothal sodium, a short-acting barbiturate, has been widely employed as an anesthetic for intravenous administration during the past few years. The large number of articles currently appearing in scientific journals concerning its use indicates that the drug is now occupying the crest of its wave of popularity. Pentothal sodium is a powerful and rapidly acting drug, which may be employed for operations requiring only analgesia or procedures of short duration. It should be administered only by persons trained and experienced in its pharmacologic action and in specific resuscitative procedures. The drug is potentially dangerous, since it is a depressant of the respiratory center in the medulla. Recent experimental work1 indicates that pentothal sodium effects an early loss of precise control of breathing and of the acid-base equilibrium. This depressant action of pentothal sodium on respiration should restrict its use to short, relatively atraumatic operative procedures.
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