Mainly used as a hyponotic in the treatment of insomnia; however, it is only effective as a hypnotic for short-term use. May be used as a routine sedative preoperatively to decrease anxiety and cause sedation and/or sleep with respiration depression or cough reflex.
Metabolized by the liver and erythrocytes to form trichloroethanol, an active metabolite. This reaction is catalyzed by alcohol dehydrogenase and other enzymes. Oxidation of chloral hydrate and trichloroethanol to trichloroacetic acid in the liver and kidneys also occurs to a lesser extent. Trichloroethanol also undergoes glucuronidation to produce an inactive metabolism.
Rapidly absorbed in the GI tract following oral or rectal administration. Chloral hydrate and its active metabolite, trichloroethanol, have been detected in CSF, umbilical cord blood, fetal blood, and amniotic fluid.
route of elimination
Trichloroethanol, trichloroethanol glucuronide, and trichloroacetic acid are excreted in the urine. Some trichloroethanol glucuronide may be secreted into bile and excreted in the feces.