Russian ballet hero dies in dentist’s chair

Reports in St Petersburg have revealed an unusual cause of death for the great ballet restorer Sergei Vikharev, who died last week aged 55.

Apparently, he was given anaesthetic for cosmetic dental treatment in a private clinic. The anaesthetic used was Propofol, administered in some US states for the death penalty.

Vikharev never emerged from the artificially induced coma.


Read here.



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  • I remember how worried the doctor was at the dental clinic I attended last year when she was injected anaesthetic into my gum. She stopped twice or even three times to check the situation ( I only changed a filling ). I don’t know how many anaesthetics those clinics use regularly. Have never known their names also.
    P.S. people say now Ratmansky will be more and more often at St.Petersbourg ( on business, of course)

  • I’d be surprised if he was actually “in the dentist’s chair” if he received a general anaesthetic.
    Happily gone are the days when your dentist would give you a GA for extractions etc. In the UK such practices stopped years ago and nowadays you should only be given a GA in proper hospital setting (by a fully qualified anaesthetist), where all the necessary back-up equipment and procedures are available for when things go wrong. Sad but true that even the most straightforward of medical procedures can quickly become a bit of a nightmare for the most unexpected of reasons. Perhaps he had some sort of allergic reaction to the drug.

    • ….the doctor told me their main concern ( every time) is a patient’s heart. some anaesthetics affect heart extremely badly. I was under GA once in my life, only remember they tried to “ressurect” me using electric shock or whatevs, I also refused to wake up ….. it happens not so rarely

  • Propofol is a sedative at low doses and an anesthetic induction/maintenance agent at high doses. It is used for what is called “conscious sedation” in outpatient surgery, dental and oral surgery outpatient procedures, and endoscopic procedures, as well as in intensive care units for sedation of patients on ventilators. Used properly, and with appropriate monitoring equipment (ECG/blood pressure/continuous oxygen saturation monitoring) it is quite safe. It has a very short elimination half life and minimal after effects. This situation sounds like it was almost certainly a severe anaphylactic or anaphylactoid reaction which can happen, but is extraordinarily rare.

  • ‘Administered in some states’ – ? Not as far as I could find. Proposed in Missouri but never used after a blockade on supply by the German manufacturer.

  • Propofol is a common anesthetic used world wide for shorter surgical and investigative procedures such as laparoscopic gall bladder removal, colonoscopies etc. When properly administered, it is typically safe and efficient, allowing the patient to wake up quickly after the procedure with less grogginess and upset stomach than other agents. Typically when someone has a medical issue due to propofol it is due to the administration of the medication, or a heart condition which should have been disclosed to the anesthesiologist, or anesthetist prior to the procedure. I wold not rush to judgement in this case. FYI, both Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson died due to propofol poisoning due to malpractice, but it is a standard agent used regularly.

  • Propofol is 1. Extremely safe if USED PROPERLY and IN THE RIGHT DOSAGE; 2. IT IS NOT used in lethal injections. Can someone be given too much – absolutely. Can one have an allergic reaction to it — yes, just like with most medications (even OTC meds). Personally, I’m surprised this was used in a dental practice, although my most recent experience with a dentist left me scared that I wouldn’t regain the use of half of my face (turns out Novocaine & other injected pain meds used by dentists can take a very, very long time to wear off).

    • Bravo. And I agree with your statement, but propofol is part of the protocol in one state, however, I don’t think it has been used (yet). Midazolam and sodium pentothal certainly have.

  • Isn’t propofol what Michael Jackson’s doctor gave him to help him sleep? And once too much, not taking into account his physical condition at the time?

  • Propofol is a very widely used and safe general anaesthetic if use by a qualified person who gives the correct dose.

  • This is truly a sad story what happened to Sergey. Every drug has a side effect on different people. I once had to have a tooth extracted in an oral surgeon’s office. Through arm IV, they administered not profofol, but a combination of Versed and Ketamine. I sensed from the moment it started, something was bad. I felt like I was having the worst nightmare flying in the air, screaming, etc. When I came out of it, I asked if they heard me screaming and having an awful reaction. They said, no, just moaning. I truly thought as I was going through this that I was going to die at that moment. If I ever need gentle sedation, I always remember the names of these drugs as never to use.

  • Folks, ALL anesthetics are poisons. They alter normal physiology. Propofol is, when administered by an anesthesiologist, a very safe drug to use for analgesia, amnesia and for a wide variety of surgical procedures. I have had it 9 times for colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, mastectomy, herniorraphy, removal of a cystic scalp lesion and several other procedures and always insist upon it where appropriate.

    As a clinician I can assure the writer of the original article that many other anesthetics are used in death penalty cases —-how about sodium pentothal and midazolam off the top of my head. I am not even certain propofol has actually been used. It is on protocol in one state that I know of. But please don’t interpret the author’s reference as implication that it unquely can cause death. All anesthetic gases and barbiturates can induce death, so to single it out as if it were intended for this legal purpose suggests such a lack of sophistication of medical pharmacology that it’s hysterically funny.

    When propofol is not in the hands of an anesthesiologist, it is a dangerous medication. Remember Michael Jackson, whose cardiologist prescribed it, and was convicted and lost his medical license in one state for enabling Michael Jackson. There’s a reason for this—-stupidity is at the top of the list.

    A dentist using it in an office setting without an anesthesiologist present is grand malpractice in the USA.

    Remember also—too much water is toxic, both when imbibed, inhaled or delivered intravenously.

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