In order to evaluate reversal time from very intense neuromuscular blockade caused by a continuous infusion of atracurium, the time course of neostigmine induced reversal from different levels of neuromuscular blockade was evaluated using the post-tetanic count (PTC) and the train-of-four (TOF) in 30 patients anesthetized with nitrous oxide, fentanyl, and thiopental. Reversal time (time from administration of neostigmine at different PTC levels to a TOF ratio of 0.7) was found to depend upon the degree of blockade at the time of reversal. Median reversal time from a PTC of 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, and >13 (but less than 10% twitch height) to a TOF ratio of 0.7 was 31, 23, 19, 18, 14, and 13 min, respectively. Spontaneous recovery from PTC level of 1-2, when atracurium infusion was stopped, to a PTC level at which antagonism was induced and reversal time were both correlated to the square root of the PTC. Total recovery time (spontaneous recovery plus reversal time) was not shortened by an early injection of neostigmine. It is concluded that neostigmine administration during intense neuromuscular blockade following atracurium infusion does not shorten total recovery time and offers no clinical advantages.
(C) 1990 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.