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Minerva Anestesiologica 2006 March;72(3):97-109

Copyright © 2006 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Residual neuromuscular blockade: incidence, assessment, and relevance in the postoperative period

Murphy G. S.

Department of Anesthesiology Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, IL, USA


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The residual effects of neuromuscular blocking agents may persist into the early postoperative recovery period, even when neuromuscular blockade is carefully monitored and reversed in the operating room. Recent data suggest that mild degrees of residual paresis (train-of-four TOF ratios of 0.7-0.9) may be associated with significant impairment of respiratory and pharyngeal muscle function. Therefore, the new gold standard reflecting acceptable neuromuscular recovery is a TOF ratio ≥0.9. Several investigations have demonstrated that many patients continue to arrive in the postanesthesia care unit with TOF ratios <0.7-0.9. Several techniques may be used to reduce the risk of postoperative residual paresis, which include avoidance of long-acting muscle relaxants, use of neuromuscular monitoring in the operating room, routine reversal of neuromuscular blockade at a TOF count of 2-3, and early administration of reversal agents. Careful management of neuromuscular blockade may limit the occurrence of adverse events associated with residual postoperative paralysis. Large-scale outcome studies are needed to clearly define the impact of residual neuromuscular block on major morbidity and mortality in surgical patients.

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