Is the recovery profile of mivacurium independent of the rate of decay of its plasma concentration in patients with normal plasma cholinesterase activity?

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The duration of action of muscle relaxants is poorly correlated to the rate of decay of their plasma concentration. The plasma concentration of mivacurium may rapidly decrease below its active concentration because of the extensive hydrolysis of mivacurium. By inflating a tourniquet on one upper limb for 3 min after the administration of atracurium, mivacurium or vecuronium, we studied the influence of the initial decline of their plasma concentration on their effect.


In 50 patients anaesthetised with thiopental, isoflurane and fentally, the effect of bolus doses of 0.15 or 0.25 mg · kg-1 mivacurium (MIV 15, MIV 25), 0.3 or 0.5 mg · kg-1 atracurium (ATR 30, ATR 50) and 0.06 or 0.1 mg · kg-1 vecuronium (VEC 06, VEC 10) were measured on both arms (evoked response of the adductor pollicis to train-of-four stimulation every 12 s), a tourniquet being applied on one arm just before and during 3 min after the muscle relaxant bolus.


Tourniquet inflation of 3 min almost abolished the neuromuscular effect of mivacurium. In the vecuronium groups and in the ATR 50 group, tourniquet inflation did not modify the maximum degree of depression of the twitch response. Also, the duration of action of vecuronium was unaffected by the tourniquet. In the ATR 30 group, times to return of the twitch response to 25% (duration 25%) and 75% (duration 75%) of control response were significantly shorter in the cuffed arm, 23 min vs 27 min, and 41 min vs 45 min, respectively. In the ATR 50 group, only duration 25% was significantly shorter in the cuffed arm (41 min vs 45 min).


The results suggest that the rate of decline of the plasma concentration of mivacurium is so rapid, that a very low and almost clinically ineffective concentration is present as soon as 3 min after its administration. The results also indicate that the recovery from a mivacurium-induced neuromuscular blockade is not influenced by the rate of decay of its plasma concentration in patients with genotypically normal plasma cholinesterase.

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