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General: As with any potent general anesthetic, isoflurane should only be administered in an adequately equipped anesthetizing environment by those who are familiar with the pharmacology of the drug and qualified by training and experience to manage the anesthetized patient.

All patients anesthetized with isoflurane should be continually monitored (e.g., monitoring of the electrocardiogram, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and end tidal CO 2 ). Isoflurane is a profound respiratory depressant. Excessive respiratory depression may be related to depth of anesthesia and respond to decreasing the inspired concentration of isoflurane. The depressant effect is accentuated by concurrent use of opioids and other respiratory depressants. Respiration should be closely monitored and assisted or controlled ventilation employed when necessary.

With the exception of neonates, isoflurane MAC decreases with increasing age.

Regardless of the anesthetics employed, maintenance of normal hemodynamics is important to the avoidance of myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease.

Isoflurane can cause dose-dependent coronary vasodilation and has been shown to divert blood from collateral-dependent myocardium to normally perfused areas in an animal model (“coronary steal”). The extent to which coronary steal occurs in patients with steal-prone coronary anatomy is unclear. Monitor for signs of inadequate myocardial perfusion via hemodynamic monitors (e.g., ECG, blood pressure) during isoflurane administration. Consider additional cardiac monitoring in patients with known coronary artery disease, as clinically necessary.

Isoflurane causes a dose-dependent reduction in systemic vascular resistance and blood pressure. Particular care must be taken when selecting the dosage for patients who are hypovolemic, hypotensive, or otherwise hemodynamically compromised, e.g., due to concomitant medications.

Isoflurane markedly increases cerebral blood flow at deeper levels of anesthesia to produce a transient increase in intracranial pressure. In patients with or at risk for elevations of intracranial pressure (ICP), administer isoflurane in conjunction with ICP-reducing strategies, as clinically appropriate.

Isoflurane, like some other inhalational anesthetics, can react with desiccated carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) absorbents to produce carbon monoxide, which may result in elevated levels of carboxyhemoglobin in some patients. Barium hydroxide lime and soda lime become desiccated when fresh gases are passed through the CO 2 absorber canister at high flow rates over many hours or days. When a clinician suspects that CO 2 absorbent may be desiccated, it should be replaced before the administration of isoflurane.

The color indicator of most CO 2 absorbents does not necessarily change as a result of desiccation. Therefore, the lack of significant color change should not be taken as assurance of adequate hydration of the CO 2 absorbent material. CO 2 absorbents should be replaced routinely regardless of the state of color indicator following current manufacturer’s guidelines for use of anesthesiology equipment.

The following reactions have been reported following occupational exposure to isoflurane: dyspnea, bronchospasm, stridor, cough, dizziness, paresthesia, hepatic reactions, flushing rash, contact dermatitis, erythema, periorbital edema, eye irritation, conjunctival hyperemia, and headache.

Information for Patients: Isoflurane, as well as other general anesthetics, may cause a slight decrease in intellectual function for 2 or 3 days following anesthesia. As with other anesthetics, small changes in moods and symptoms may persist for up to 6 days after administration.

Effect of anesthetic and sedation drugs on early brain development: Studies conducted in young animals and children suggest repeated or prolonged use of general anesthetic or sedation drugs in children younger than 3 years may have negative effects on their developing brains. Discuss with parents and caregivers the benefits, risks, and timing and duration of surgery or procedures requiring anesthetic and sedation drugs (see WARNINGS/Pediatric Neurotoxicity).

Laboratory Tests: Transient increases in BSP retention, blood glucose and serum creatinine with decrease in BUN, serum cholesterol and alkaline phosphatase have been observed.

Drug Interactions:

Opioids decrease the Minimum Alveolar Concentration (MAC) of isoflurane. Opioids such as fentanyl and its analogues, when combined with isoflurane, may lead to a synergistic fall in blood pressure and respiratory rate.

Nitrous oxide decreases the MAC of isoflurane (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Isoflurane potentiates the muscle relaxant effect of all muscle relaxants and decreases the required doses of neuromuscular blocking agents. In general, anesthetic concentrations of isoflurane at equilibrium reduce the ED 95 of succinylcholine, atracurium, pancuronium, rocuronium and vecuronium by approximately 25 to 40% or more compared to N 2 O/opioid anesthesia. If added relaxation is required, supplemental doses of muscle relaxants may be used.

Isoflurane is similar to sevoflurane in the sensitization of the myocardium to arrhythmogenic effect of exogenously administered adrenaline. Doses of adrenaline greater than 5mcg/kg, when administered submucosally may produce multiple ventricular arrhythmias. Isoflurane may lead to marked hypotension in patients treated with calcium antagonists.

Concomitant use of beta blockers may exaggerate the cardiovascular effects of inhalational anesthetics, including hypotension and negative inotropic effects.

Concomitant use of MAO inhibitors and inhalational anesthetics may increase the risk of hemodynamic instability during surgery or medical procedures.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility:


Swiss ICR mice were given isoflurane to determine whether such exposure might induce neoplasia. Isoflurane was given at 1/2, 1/8 and 1/32 MAC for four in-utero exposures and for 24 exposures to the pups during the first nine weeks of life. The mice were killed at 15 months of age. The incidence of tumors in these mice was the same as in untreated control mice, which were given the same background gases, but not the anesthetic.


Isoflurane was negative in the in vivo mouse micronucleus and in vitro human lymphocyte chromosomal aberration assay. In published studies, isoflurane was negative in the in vitro bacterial reverse mutation assay (Ames test) in all strains tested ( Salmonella typhimurium strains TA98, TA100, and TA1535) in the presence or absence of metabolic activation.

Impairment of Fertility

Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to isoflurane at concentrations of 0%, 0.15%, and 0.60% (0, 1/8, and 1/2 MAC) 2 hours per day for 14 consecutive days prior to mating. Isoflurane had no effects on either male or female fertility.


Risk Summary

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. In animal reproduction studies, embryofetal toxicity was noted in pregnant mice exposed to 0.075% (increased post implantation losses) and 0.3% isoflurane (increased post implantation losses and decreased live-birth index) during organogenesis.

Published studies in pregnant primates demonstrate that the administration of anesthetic and sedation drugs that block NMDA receptors and/or potentiate GABA activity during the period of peak brain development increases neuronal apoptosis in the developing brain of the offspring when used for longer than 3 hours. There are no data on pregnancy exposures in primates corresponding to periods prior to the third trimester in humans [See Data].

The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2-4% and 15-20%, respectively.


Animal Data

Pregnant rats were exposed to isoflurane at concentrations of 0%, 0.1%, or 0.4% for two hours per day during organogenesis (Gestational Days 6-15). Isoflurane did not cause malformations or clear maternal toxicity under these conditions.

Pregnant mice exposed to isoflurane at concentrations of 0%, 0.075%, or 0.30% for 2 hours per day during organogenesis (Gestational Days 6-15). Isoflurane increased fetal toxicity (higher post implantation losses at 0.075 and 0.3% groups and significantly lower live-birth index in the 0.3% isoflurane treatment group). Isoflurane did not cause malformations or clear maternal toxicity under these conditions.

Pregnant rats were exposed to concentrations of isoflurane at 0%, 0.1%, or 0.4% for 2 hours per day during late gestation (GD 15-20). Animals appeared slightly sedated during exposure. No adverse effects on the offspring or evidence of maternal toxicity were reported. This study did not evaluate neurobehavioral function including learning and memory in the first generation (F1) of pups.

In a published study in primates, administration of an anesthetic dose of ketamine for 24 hours on Gestation Day 122 increased neuronal apoptosis in the developing brain of the fetus. In other published studies, administration of either isoflurane or propofol for 5 hours on Gestation Day 120 resulted in increased neuronal and oligodendrocyte apoptosis in the developing brain of the offspring. With respect to brain development, this time period corresponds to the third trimester of gestation in the human. The clinical significance of these findings is not clear; however, studies in juvenile animals suggest neuroapoptosis correlates with long-term cognitive deficits. (see WARNINGS/Pediatric Neurotoxicity, PRECAUTIONS/Pediatric Use, and ANIMAL TOXICOLOGY AND/OR PHARMACOLOGY).

Nursing Mothers

Due to insufficient information regarding the excretion of isoflurane in human milk, the potential risks and benefits for each specific patient should be carefully considered before isoflurane is administered to nursing women.

Pediatric Use

During the induction of anesthesia, saliva flow and tracheobronchial secretion can increase and can be the cause of larynogospasm, particularly in children.

Published juvenile animal studies demonstrate that the administration of anesthetic and sedation drugs, such as Isoflurane, that either block NMDA receptors or potentiate the activity of GABA during the period of rapid brain growth or synaptogenesis, results in widespread neuronal and oligodendrocyte cell loss in the developing brain and alterations in synaptic morphology and neurogenesis. Based on comparisons across species, the window of vulnerability to these changes is believed to correlate with exposures in the third trimester of gestation through the first several months of life, but may extend out to approximately 3 years of age in humans.

In primates, exposure to 3 hours of ketamine that produced a light surgical plane of anesthesia did not increase neuronal cell loss, however, treatment regimens of 5 hours or longer of isoflurane increased neuronal cell loss. Data from isoflurane-treated rodents and ketamine-treated primates suggest that the neuronal and oligodendrocyte cell losses are associated with prolonged cognitive deficits in learning and memory. The clinical significance of these nonclinical findings is not known, and healthcare providers should balance the benefits of appropriate anesthesia in pregnant women, neonates, and young children who require procedures with the potential risks suggested by the nonclinical data. (see WARNINGS/Pediatric Neurotoxicity, PRECAUTIONS/ Pregnancy, and ANIMAL TOXICOLOGY AND/OR PHARMACOLOGY).

Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines

Patients should be advised that performance of activities requiring mental alertness, such as driving a vehicle or operating machinery, may be impaired for some time after general anesthesia. Therefore, patients should not undertake hazardous tasks, such as driving, for at least 24 hours following administration of a general anesthetic.

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