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International Journal of Analytical Chemistry
Volume 2019, Article ID 3987417, 7 pages
Research Article

Stability of Propofol (2,6-Diisopropylphenol) in Thermal Desorption Tubes during Air Transport

1CBR-Center of Breath Research, Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Therapy, Saarland University Medical Center and Saarland University Faculty of Medicine, 66424 Homburg/Saar, Germany
2Department of Outcomes Research, Anesthesiology Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Felix Maurer; ue.sku@reruam.xilef

Received 5 March 2019; Accepted 7 April 2019; Published 2 May 2019

Academic Editor: Charles L. Wilkins

Copyright © 2019 Felix Maurer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The anesthetic propofol and other exhaled organic compounds can be sampled in Tenax sorbent tubes and analyzed by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. The aim of this study was to evaluate the stability of propofol in Tenax sorbent tubes during overseas shipping. This is relevant for international pharmacokinetic studies on propofol in exhaled air. Tenax sorbent tube propofol samples with concentrations between 10 and 100 ng were prepared by liquid injection and with a calibration gas generator. For each preparation method, one reference set was analyzed immediately after preparation, a second set was stored at room temperature, and a third one was stored refrigerated. The fourth set was sent from Germany by airmail to USA and back. The shipped set of tubes was analyzed when it returned after 55 days elapsed. Then, the room temperature samples and the refrigerated stored samples were also analyzed. To evaluate the stability of propofol in the stored and shipped tubes, we calculated the recovery rates of each sample set. The mean recovery in the stored samples was 101.2% for the liquid preparation and 134.6% for the gaseous preparation at 4°C. At 22°C, the recovery was 96.1% for liquid preparation and 92.1% for gaseous preparation, whereas the shipped samples had a recovery of 85.3% and 111.3%. Thus, the deviation of the shipped samples is within a range of 15%, which is analytically acceptable. However, the individual values show significantly larger deviations of up to -32.1% (liquid) and 30.9% (gaseous). We conclude that storage of propofol on Tenax tubes at room temperature for 55 days is possible to obtain acceptable results. However, it appears that due to severe temperature and pressure variations air shipment of propofol samples in Tenax tubes without cooling shows severe deviations from the initial concentration. Although it was not tested in this study, we assume that refrigerated transport might be necessary to obtain comparable results as in the stored samples.