The pharmacological and historical knowledge about the currently available intravenous induction hypnotics form the basis for the daily work of anesthetists. Side effects of using hypnotic induction agents must be anticipated and adequately treated. Decades of experience with using intravenous induction hypnotics have led to theoretical requirements for an ideal narcotic agent with a best possible side effect profile. In the absence of this optimal hypnotic induction agent, a careful selection of one or a combination of narcotic drugs is necessary to meet the needs of the respective risk constellation of the patient. While propofol enjoyed increasing frequency of use over the last three decades and is currently regarded as the gold standard in numerous clinics, thiopental is a noteworthy alternative apart from its elimination kinetics. Furthermore, substances with favorable hemodynamic profiles are available with etomidate and ketamine. Midazolam as a short-acting benzodiazepine rounds off the spectrum.
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