isoflurane

Isoflurane (2-chloro-2-(difluoromethoxy)-1,1,1-trifluoro-ethane) is a halogenated ether used for inhalational anesthesia. Together with enflurane and halothane, it replaced the flammable ethers used in the pioneer days of surgery. Its name comes from being a structural isomer of enflurane, hence they have the same empirical formula. It is a racemic mixture of (R) and (S) optical isomers. Its use in human medicine is now starting to decline, being replaced with sevoflurane, desflurane, and the intravenous anaesthetic propofol. Isoflurane is still frequently used for veterinary anaesthesia. Isoflurane is always administered in conjunction with air and/or pure oxygen. Often nitrous oxide is also used. Although its physical properties imply that anaesthesia can be induced more rapidly than with halothane, its pungency can irritate the respiratory system, negating this theoretical advantage conferred by its physical properties. It is usually used to maintain a state of general anesthesia that has been induced with another drug, such as thiopentone or propofol. It vaporizes readily, but is a liquid at room temperature. It is completely nonflammable. It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a health system.