Skeletal formula
Ball-and-stick model
Clinical data
Trade namesBrevital Sodium
Other namesMethohexitone
AHFS/Drugs.comConsumer Drug Information
License data
Routes of
Intravenous, rectal
Drug classBarbiturate
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
BioavailabilityI.V. ~100%
Rectal ~17%
Elimination half-life5.6 ± 2.7 minutes
Excretionexcreted in feces
  • 5-Hex-3-yn-2-yl-1-methyl-5-prop-2-enyl-1,3-diazinane-2,4,6-trione
CAS Number
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard100.005.272 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass262.309 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • O=C1N(C(=O)NC(=O)C1(C\C=C)C(C#CCC)C)C
  • InChI=1S/C14H18N2O3/c1-5-7-8-10(3)14(9-6-2)11(17)15-13(19)16(4)12(14)18/h6,10H,2,5,9H2,1,3-4H3,(H,15,17,19) checkY

Methohexital or methohexitone (marketed under the brand names Brevital and Brietal) is a drug which is a barbiturate derivative. It is classified as short-acting, and has a rapid onset of action.[2] It is similar in its effects to sodium thiopental, a drug with which it competed in the market for anesthetics.


Methohexital binds to a distinct site which is associated with Cl ionophores at GABAA receptors.[3] This increases the length of time which the Cl ionopores are open, thus causing an inhibitory effect.

Metabolism of methohexital is primarily hepatic via demethylation and oxidation.[1] Side-chain oxidation is the primary means of metabolism involved in the termination of the drug's biological activity.


Methohexital is primarily used to induce anesthesia, and is generally provided as a sodium salt (i.e. methohexital sodium). It is only used in hospital or similar settings, under strict supervision.[1] It has been commonly used to induce deep sedation or general anesthesia for surgery and dental procedures. Unlike many other barbiturates, methohexital actually lowers the seizure threshold, a property that makes it particularly useful when anesthesia is provided for an electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).[4] Its rapid recovery rate with consciousness being gained within three to seven minutes after induction and full recovery within 30 minutes is a major advantage over other ECT barbiturates.[4]


Methohexital can be synthesized in the classic manner of making barbituric acid derivatives, in particular by the reaction of malonic ester derivatives with derivatives of urea.[5] The resulting allyl-(1-methyl-2-pentynyl) malonic ester is synthesized by subsequent alkylation of the malonic ester itself, beginning with 2-bromo-3-hexyne, which gives (1-methyl-2-pentynyl)malonic ester, and then by allylbromide. In the final step, reaction of the disubstituted malonic ester with N-methylurea gives methohexital.

Methohexital synthesis


  1. ^ a b c "Brevital Sodium". DailyMed. July 24, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  2. ^ "Methohexital". MeSH.
  3. ^ Katzung BG. Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (10th ed.). pp. 406–407.
  4. ^ a b Schulgasser H, Borowitz AH (August 1963). "Methohexital anaesthesia in electroconvulsive therapy". South African Medical Journal. 37: 870–1. PMID 14045806.
  5. ^ US 2872448, Doran WJ, "1,5,5-Trisubstituted barbituric acids", issued February 3, 1959, assigned to Eli Lily and Company  (U.S. patent 2,872,448)