Methoxyflurane: a review with emphasis on its role in dental practice

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Abstract

Methoxyflurane was developed as an anaesthetic agent and introduced into clinical practice in 1960. It soon became evident that it possessed analgesic properties that other drugs did not. Due to toxicity concerns, it lost favour in general anaesthesia and had been largely abandoned by the late 1970s. The manufacturer withdrew it in 1999, and the Food and Drug Administration in the United States did not renew its licence in 2005. It has also been withdrawn by the European Union. However, it continues to be used in Australasia, primarily as an inhaled self-administered analgesic by emergency services immediately following trauma. It has become attractive for use in dental practice, likely due to its effectiveness as an analgesic and its additional sedative qualities. Its acceptance is controversial as its use in dentistry is largely elective. Despite its good safety record in analgesic doses, adverse reactions have been recorded. Practitioners should be well aware of risks associated with its use before considering administration, and carefully assess whether or not there are equally good alternative options that do not the carry the same risks. Methoxyflurane is reviewed below with an emphasis on its use in dental practice.

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