Isoflurane (Molecule of the Month for June 2007)
Isoflurane is used for inhalational anesthesia. Together with enflurane and halothane, it replaced the flammable ethers used in the pioneer days of surgery. 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. It vaporizes readily, but is a liquid at room temperature. It is completely non-flammable.
Isoflurane is always administered in conjunction with air and/or pure oxygen. Often nitrous oxide is also used. Although its physical properties means 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.
A major advantage of isoflurane is that it is no longer patented, and hence very economical to use.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for June 2007 )