Tactile evaluation of the response to double burst stimulation decreases, but does not eliminate, the problem of postoperative residual paralysis

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Abstract

Background:

Routine perioperative monitoring with acceleromyography might prevent residual block, whereas routine tactile evaluation of the response to train-of-four (TOF) nerve stimulation does not. The purpose of this prospective, randomised and blinded study was to evaluate the effect of manual evaluation of the response to double burst stimulation (DBS3.3) upon the incidence of residual block.

Methods:

Sixty adult patients scheduled for elective abdominal surgery were included in the study. Pancuronium 0.08 to 0.1 mg kg-1 was given for relaxation and tracheal intubation. For maintenance of neuromuscular block, pancuronium 1-2 mg was administered. The patients were randomly allocated into two groups. In group DBS (double burst stimulation) the degree of block during anaesthesia was assessed by manual evaluation of the response to TOF nerve stimulation. During reversal, when no fade was detectable in the TOF response, the stimulation pattern was changed to DBS3.3. The trachea was extubated when the anaesthetist judged the neuromuscular function to have recovered adequately and no fade in the DBS3.3 response could be felt. In group CC (clinical criteria) patients were managed without the use of a nerve stimulator, and the level of neuromuscular block and reversal were evaluated solely on the basis of clinical criteria. In both groups, the TOF ratio was measured by mechanomyography immediately after tracheal extubation. Also, the ability to sustain head lift for 5 s, to protrude the tongue, to open the eyes, and to lift one arm to the opposite shoulder were tested.

Results:

The TOF ratio, as measured immediately after tracheal extubation, was significantly lower in group CC than in group DBS (means: 0.68 and 0.78, respectively), and the incidence of residual neuromuscular block defined as a TOF ratio <0.7 was significantly higher in group CC than in group DBS (57 and 24%, respectively). The time from the first TOF measurement until the TOF ratio reached 0.8 was significantly longer in group CC than in group DBS (means: 11.5 and 6.2 min, respectively). No significant differences between the two groups of patients were found in duration of anaesthesia, in times from end of surgery to injection of neostigmine, tracheal extubation or TOF ratio 0.8, in dose of pancuronium, or in any other postoperative variable.

Conclusion:

Routine perioperative manual evaluation of the responses to TOF and DBS3.3 decreased the incidence and the degree of residual block following the use of pancuronium. It did not, however, exclude clinically significant residual paralysis, nor did it influence the amount of pancuronium used during the operation, the duration of anaesthesia or the time from end of surgery to tracheal extubation or to sufficient recovery of neuromuscular function (TOF=0.8).

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