Residual neuromuscular blockade: management and impact on postoperative pulmonary outcome : Current Opinion in Anesthesiology

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AMBULATORY ANESTHESIA: Edited by Susan Dabu-Bondoc

Residual neuromuscular blockade

management and impact on postoperative pulmonary outcome

Fuchs-Buder, Thomas; Nemes, Réka; Schmartz, Denis

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Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology 29(6):p 662-667, December 2016. | DOI: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000395


Purpose of review 

To revise the current literature on concepts for neuromuscular block management. Moreover, consequences of incomplete neuromuscular recovery on patients’ postoperative pulmonary outcome are evaluated as well.

Recent findings 

The incidence of residual paralysis may be as high as 70% and even small degrees of residual paralysis may have clinical consequences. Neostigmine should not be given before return of the fourth response of the train-of-four-stimulation and no more than 40–50 μg/kg should be given. Sugammadex acts more rapidly and more predictably than neostigmine. Finally, there is convincing evidence in the literature that incomplete neuromuscular recovery may lead to a poor postoperative pulmonary outcome.


New evidence has emerged about the pathophysiological implications of incomplete neuromuscular recovery. Not only are the pulmonary muscles functionally impaired, but respiratory control is also affected. Residual paralysis endangers the coordination of the pharyngeal muscles and the integrity of the upper airway. However, neuromuscular monitoring and whenever needed pharmacological reversal prevent residual paralysis.

Copyright © 2016 YEAR Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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