Trace element homeostasis during continuous sedation with propofol containing EDTA versus other sedatives in critically III patients

T. L. Higgins, M. Murray, D. H. Kett, G. Fulda, K. M. Kramer, D. Gelmont, H. V. Dedhia, H. Levy, D. Teres, G. P. Zaloga, H. Ko, K. A. Thompson

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29 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate changes in serum and urinary zinc, cobalt, copper, iron, and calcium concentrations in critically ill patients receiving propofol containing disodium edetate (disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid [EDTA]) versus sedative agents without EDTA. Design: This was a randomised, open-label, parallel-group study with randomisation stratified by baseline Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II) scores. Setting: Intensive care units (ICU) in 23 medical centres. Patients: Medical, surgical, or trauma ICU patients 17 years of age or older who required mechanical ventilator support and sedation. Interventions: A total of 106 patients received propofol containing 0.005% EDTA (propofol EDTA), and 104 received other sedative agents without EDTA (non-EDTA). Only the first 108 patients were assessed for urinary trace metal excretion. Twenty-four-hour urine samples were collected on days 2, 3, and 7 and every 7 days thereafter for determination of zinc, cobalt, copper, iron, and calcium excretion; EDTA levels; urine osmolality; albumin levels; and glucose levels. The first 143 patients were assessed for serum concentration of zinc, cobalt, copper, iron, and calcium; creatinine; blood urea nitrogen; and albumin at baseline and once during each 24-hour urine collection. Measurements and Results: For the assessment of trace metals, patients receiving propofol EDTA demonstrated increased mean urinary excretion of zinc, copper, and iron compared with the normal range. All patients receiving sedatives demonstrated increased urinary excretion of zinc and copper above normal reference values. Compared with the non-EDTA sedative group, the propofol EDTA group demonstrated increased urinary excretion of zinc and iron. Mean serum concentrations of zinc and total calcium were decreased in both patient groups. Serum zinc concentrations increased from baseline to day 3 in the non-EDTA sedative group but not in the propofol EDTA group. Renal function, measured by blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, and creatinine clearance, did not deteriorate during ICU sedation with either regimen. Conclusion: This study showed that critical illness is associated with increased urinary losses of zinc, copper, and iron. Propofol EDTA-treated patients had greater urinary losses of zinc and iron and lower serum zinc concentrations compared with the non-EDTA sedative group. No adverse events indicative of trace metal deficiency were observed in either group. The clinical significance of trace metal losses during critical illness is unclear and requires further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S413-S421
JournalIntensive Care Medicine, Supplement
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • EDTA
  • Element
  • Metal
  • Propofol
  • Sedation
  • Trace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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