Measuring the accuracy of propofol target-controlled infusion (TCI) before and after surgery with major blood loss

  • Thomas Mohler
  • JoEllen Welter
  • Martina Steurer
  • Luis Neumann
  • Max Zueger
  • Thomas Kraemer
  • Alexander DullenkopfEmail author
Original Research


Target-controlled infusion (TCI) is based on pharmacokinetic models designed to achieve a desired drug level in the blood. TCI’s predictive accuracy of plasma propofol levels at the end of surgery with major blood loss has not been well established. This prospective observational study included adult patients (BMI 20–35 kg/m2) undergoing surgery with expected blood loss ≥ 1500 mL. The study was conducted with the Schnider TCI propofol model (Alaris PK Infusion Pump, CareFusion, Switzerland). Propofol levels were assessed in steady-state at the end of anaesthesia induction (Tinitial) and before the end of surgery (Tfinal). Predicted propofol levels (CTCI) were compared to measured levels (Cblood). Twenty-one patients were included. The median estimated blood loss was 1600 mL (IQR 1000–2300), and the median fluid balance at Tfinal was + 3200 mL (IQR 2320–4715). Heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, and blood lactate did not differ significantly between Tinitial and Tfinal. The median bispectral index (0–100) was 50 (IQR 42–54) and 49 (IQR 42–56) at the two respective time points. At Tinitial, median CTCI was 2.2 µmol/L (IQR 2–2.45) and Cblood was 2.0 µmol/L (bias 0.3 µmol/L, limits of agreement − 1.1 to 1.3, p = 0.33). CTCI and Cblood at Tfinal were 2.0 µmol/L (IQR 1.6–2.2) and 1 µmol/L (IQR 0.8–1.4), respectively (bias 0.6 µmol/L, limits of agreement − 0.89 to 1.4, p < 0.0001). Propofol TCI allows clinically unproblematic conduct of general anaesthesia. In cases of major blood loss, the probability of propofol TCI overestimating plasma levels increases.

Trial registration German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS; DRKS00009312).


Propofol administration Target controlled infusion Automated drug delivery devices 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care MedicineSpital ThurgauFrauenfeldSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Laboratory MedicineSpital ThurgauFrauenfeldSwitzerland
  4. 4.Forensic Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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