A short-acting barbiturate also known as sodium thiopental, Sodium Pentothal (Abbott Laboratories discovered it and trademarked it as this), thiopentone sodium, and trapanal. Your liver metabolizes it to pentobarbital, another short-acting barbiturate.

Good Thiopental:

Used by anethesiologists for the intial patient K.O., however, in small doses it wears off quickly (5-10 minutes), so long-acting inhaled anesthetics are used to keep the patients under. Has a long half-life (5-24 hours), so if it were the only anesthetic used, the patient'd be out for a long time, this varies by how much fat a person has because thiopental is redistributed to adipocytes. So the fatter one is, the longer the effect of thiopental would last (Big Mac meet
unconsciousness, unconsciousness, Big Mac).

Can be used to induce medical comas in cases of intracranial bleeding, during which your brain swells, from becoming squishier (a very bad thing), and also reduces pressure by reducing the activity of neurons, and thus the osmotic exchange rate.

Bad Thiopental:

Used in some...alleged...situations to inhibit higher brain function in hopes of getting people to tell the truth. This is based on the assumption that lying is more complicated than telling the
truth, which psychiatrists and kids who steal cookies before dinner hotly dispute.

Infamous for its role in the deaths of some of the wounded of Pearl Harbor. Traumatized or severely wounded personnel were given large doses of thiopental that proved to be too large.

Evil Thiopental:

Used as the initial drug in lethal injection to induce coma and make for painless state-sanctioned execution (in 37 states near you), along with pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Theoretically, thiopental alone could do the job, but that would take too long and Americans just don't have that kind of attention span.

Note: Today's post is brought to you by Toaster Sunshine, a faithful D&P reader with a knack for science blogging. Check out Toaster's blog at http://bioanthro.blogspot.com

1 chemically inspired comments:

Skipraid said...

I prefer a good ol' fashioned hanging or 'lectric chair myself, but lethal injection works too. Yee haw. Go Ahmurrica.