Tetanic fade during neuromuscular blockade produced by atracurium in the rat diaphragm preparation

Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
F A WaliE J McAteer


In the present investigation, we studied and measured the phenomenon of tetanic fade and peak tetanic tension depression in the rat diaphragm preparation in the presence of a blocking concentration of atracurium (e.g., 10 mumol.l-1). Atracurium (10 mumol.l-1) produced a pronounced tetanic fade (i.e., 47-69% reduction of total sustained tetanic tension) at a time (15 s) when it reduced the peak tetanic tension by only 25%. The time course for total tetanic fade was 30-35 s, whereas the time taken for complete peak tetanic tension depression was 3-3.5 min, suggesting that the two effects were produced via different mechanisms, involving presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanism. It was concluded that atracurium produces a profound tetanic fade, with respect to its effect on twitch or tetanic tension, suggesting that the drug is a potent neuromuscular blocker, with rapid onset of blockade.


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