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Do we really need sugammadex as an antagonist of muscle relaxants in anesthesia?

Meistelman, Claude; Donati, François

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: August 2016 - Volume 29 - Issue 4 - p 462–467
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000359
DRUGS IN ANESTHESIA: Edited by Jürgen Schüttler

Purpose of review Sugammadex is a selective relaxant-binding agent that is designed to encapsulate rocuronium and chemically similar steroidal muscle relaxants such as vecuronium. This review summarizes recent information on the use of sugammadex in clinical practice.

Recent findings The main advantages of sugammadex when compared with conventional anticholinesterase agents are a much faster recovery time and its unique ability to reverse rapidly and efficiently, for the first time, deep levels of neuromuscular blockade. However, there is paucity of evidence-based studies on the benefit of deep neuromuscular block, and then routine administration of sugammadex to reverse any level of block, for example, during laparoscopic surgery. It appears that reduction of costs depends mainly on organizational factors. Finally it must be remembered that sugammadex only works with steroidal nondepolarizing muscle relaxants; therefore neostigmine should not be withdrawn because it is the only reversal agent effective against atracurium or cisatracurium.

Summary Sugammadex offers a significantly faster and more predictable recovery profile than neostigmine. It is now possible to reverse rapidly and efficiently any level of neuromuscular blockade and to avoid the risk of adverse events because of residual paralysis such as critical respiratory events during recovery from anesthesia.

aDepartment of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, CHU de Nancy Brabois, Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France

bDepartment of Anesthesiology, Université de Montréal et Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, 5415, boul. l’Assomption, QC H1T 2M4, Montréal, Canada

Correspondence to Claude Meistelman, Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care medicine, Hopital de Brabois, rue du Morvan, 54500 Vandoeuvre, France. Tel: +33 383 15 41 66; fax: +33 383 15 43 42; e-mail:

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