Propofol and survival: A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

L. Pasin, G. Landoni, L. Cabrini, G. Borghi, D. Taddeo, O. Saleh, T. Greco, G. Monti, R. Chiesa, A. Zangrillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: One of the most commonly used hypnotics is propofol. Several studies performed in cardiac surgery suggested an increased mortality in patients receiving a propofol-based total intravenous anaesthesia. Furthermore, the possibility of infections and the 'propofol syndrome' have suggested that propofol might be dangerous. Nonetheless, propofol is widely used in different settings because of its characteristics: fast induction, rapid elimination, short duration of action, smooth recovery from anaesthesia, few adverse effects, no teratogenic effects, characteristics that have undoubtedly contributed to its popularity. The effect of propofol on survival is unknown. We decided to carry out a meta-analysis of all randomized controlled studies ever performed on propofol vs. any comparator in any clinical setting.

Methods: Pertinent studies were independently searched in BioMedCentral, PubMed, Embase,, and Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials by expert investigators. The following inclusion criteria were used: random allocation to treatment, comparison between propofol and any comparator in any clinical setting.

Results: One hundred thirty-three studies randomizing 14,516 patients were included. No differences in mortality between patients receiving propofol [349/6957 (5.0%)] vs. any comparator [340/7559 (4.5%)] were observed in the overall population [risk ratio = 1.05, 95% confidence interval (0.93 to 1.18), P = 0.5] and in several sub-analyses.

Conclusion: Inspite of theoretical concerns, propofol has no detrimental effect on survival according to the largest meta-analysis of randomized trials ever performed on hypnotic drug.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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