UK Clinical Pharmacy Association

Salbutamol (inhaled, nebulised and oral)

Brands of salbutamol

This list is not intended to be exhaustive

Inhaled: Airomir®, Salamol®, Ventolin®

Inhaled (combination products): Combivent®

Oral: Ventolin®

Issues for surgery

For asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – no symptomatic relief of acute exacerbation if omitted.

Advice in the perioperative period

Elective and emergency surgery 

Continue – including the following combination products.

Combination product: Salbutamol with ipratropium - also see Ipratropium monograph

Oral preparations

Consider checking serum potassium pre-operatively.

Inhaled or nebulised preparations

If patient requiring several ‘reliever’ doses per week confirm adherence to any prescribed ‘preventer’ medication before considering addition / up-titration of ‘preventer’ medication to optimise disease control prior to elective surgery.

Confirm the inhaler device with patient.

Post-operative advice

Oral preparations

Restart post-operatively, at usual dose, as soon as next dose is due.

If patients are unable to resume their usual oral salbutamol post-operatively consideration should be given to alternative routes of administration.

Inhaled or nebulised preparations

Restart when required post-operatively.

Interactions with common anaesthetic agents

Halogenated anaesthetics

Salbutamol may cause hypokalaemia. Concomitant use with medications that prolong the QT-interval (e.g. desflurane, isoflurane, sevoflurane and possibly thiopental) increases the risk of torsades de pointes. Monitor serum potassium and QT-interval with concomitant treatment. 

Interactions with other common medicines used in the perioperative period


Dexamethasone and hydrocortisone may cause hypokalaemia which would potentiate any salbutamol-mediated hypokalaemia. Hypokalaemia increases the risk of torsades de pointes with medicines which prolong the QT-interval e.g. antiemetics (domperidone, droperidol, granisetron, haloperidol, ondansetron and possibly prochlorperazine), antimicrobials (ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, erythromycin) and loperamide.

Further information

None relevant.


Baxter K, Preston CL (eds), Stockley’s Drug Interactions (online) London: Pharmaceutical Press. [Accessed on 27th June 2021]

Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press. [Accessed on 27th June 2021]

Summary of Product Characteristics – Salbutamol 2 mg Tablets BP. Accord-UK Ltd. Accessed via 27/06/2021 [date of revision of the text February 2021]