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Intramuscular Versus Surface Electromyography of the Diaphragm for Determining Neuromuscular Blockade

Hemmerling, Thomas M. MD, DEAA; Schmidt, Joachim MD; Wolf, Tobias; Hanusa, Christian; Siebzehnruebl, Ernst MD; Schmitt, Hubert MD

doi: 10.1097/00000539-200101000-00021
Anesthetic Pharmacology: Research Report

We determined the neuromuscular blockade of 0.2 mg · kg−1 mivacurium at the diaphragm by using two new methods of electromyographic (EMG) monitoring and compared it with acceleromyography of the orbicularis oculi (OO) and the corrugator supercilii (CS) muscle. After the induction of anesthesia in 15 patients undergoing gynecologic laparoscopic surgery, evoked EMG responses at the diaphragm were obtained by using skin electrodes at the back of the patient, placed lateral to T12/L1 or L1/L2, and a laparoscopically applied wire electrode inserted into the dorsolateral portion of the diaphragm. Acceleromyography at the right OO and the left CS was performed. The facial and phrenic nerves were stimulated transcutaneously (onset: every 10 s, offset: every 15 s, single twitch stimulation). Lag and onset time, peak effect, and clinical duration (time to reach 75% of control value and time to reach 90% of control value) were measured and the results were compared by using analysis of variance;P < 0.05 showed significant difference. Pearson’s correlation test and the Bland-Altman test were used to compare the two diaphragmatic monitoring methods. Mean peak effects of >98% were reached at all sites. Onset times at diaphragm (skin, IM) were significantly (P < 0.005) shorter than at the CS or OO (100 ± 14 s and 98 ± 16 s vs 147 ± 39 s, 185 ± 38 s) without being statistically different between OO and CS. There was a good correlation of lag, onset time, time to reach 75% of control value, and time to reach 90% of control value (r = 0.8, 0.9, 0.8, and 0.75;P < 0.01) between the two diaphragmatic methods. Mean difference and limits of agreements are −2 ± 15 s, 1 ± 21 s, −1 ± 2.3 min, and −2 ± 3.4 min. We showed a shorter onset and clinical duration at the diaphragm in comparison with CS and OO. Two methods of EMG of the diaphragm correlated well and showed good comparability. The novel method of surface diaphragmatic EMG at the patient’s back may be useful during routine clinical anesthesia.

Implications: The novel method of monitoring the diaphragmatic neuromuscular blockade (NMB) at the patient’s back showed good correlation and good comparability with the IM NMB derived from an endoscopically inserted wire electrode and might be clinically used. The simultaneous determination of the NMB at the orbicularis oculi and the corrugator supercilii muscle did not show that either of these muscles was a good indicator of the diaphragmatic response.

Departments of Anesthesiology and Gynecology, University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

August 17, 2000.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to T. M. Hemmerling, CHUM, Hôtel-Dieu, 3840 Rue St. Urbain, Montréal, Québec H2W 1T8, Canada. Address e-mail to

© 2001 International Anesthesia Research Society