Recovery from neuromuscular blockade: residual curarisation following atracurium or vecuronium by bolus dosing or infusions

Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
W J FawcettJ N Cashman

Abstract

We conducted a survey of the incidence of Postoperative Residual Curarisation (PORC) in two groups of patients following the use of atracurium or vecuronium. In the first group (B) the neuromuscular blocking drugs were administered by bolus dosing, and in the second group (I) by continuous fusion. On arrival in the recovery room, neuromuscular function was assessed both by compound evoked electromyogram (EMG) in a train of four pattern and also clinically, by the ability to sustain a headlift for > 5 seconds, and to cough. Results were obtained from 150 patients (100 in group B and 50 in group I). The incidence of PORC, as defined by a train of four ratio of < 0.7, on arrival in the recovery room was 12% in group B, and 24% in group I. Clinical criteria of adequate neuromuscular reversal revealed different results, with the majority of patients being unable to perform either clinical test on arrival in recovery. Those patients in whom a peripheral nerve stimulator was used intra-operatively did not have a reduced incidence of PORC. We have demonstrated that PORC is still a common occurrence even with intermediate duration of action neuromuscular blocking drugs.

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