Paraldehyde is rarely used today but at one time it was used for the treatment of status epilepticus and chronic alcoholism. A number of precautions need to be taken in its dosing and storage.


Paraldehyde = 2,4,6-trimethyl-1,3,5-trioxane (trioxane = 6 member ring of 3 carbon atoms alternating with 3 oxygen atoms = a polymer of acetaldehyde.


The drug can dissolve plastic. Precautions need to be taken:

(1) not to dose in a plastic cup

(2) not to dose with a plastic spoon

(3) during intravenous infusion with plastic tubing

(4) during a rectal enema using a plastic bag or tubing


The drug is irritating to skin and mucosa. It can cause thrombophlebitis after intravenous infusion or sterile abscess after injection. It should be diluted prior to administration. For a rectal enema this can be done with olive oil.


The drug should be protected from light and air. After a sealed bottle is open the drug will breakdown over time into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. Therefore do not use the solution if:

(1) it is brown in color

(2) it smells of vinegar or acetic acid

(3) the container has been open for more than 24 hours


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