Alcuronium: A Pharmacodynamic and Pharmacokinetic Update

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Alcuronium may be considered a muscle relaxant of historical rather than clinical significance.However, recent information from the manufacturer revealed its persisting clinical use in 26 countries worldwide. Thus, a pharmacodynamic-pharmacokinetic update appears mandatory. An intravenous (IV) single-bolus injection of alcuronium (0.25 mg/kg = ED95) was administered to 10 patients undergoing maxillofacial surgery during nitrous-oxide opioid anesthesia. Alcuronium neuromuscular block (evoked twitch tension), plasma concentration, and renal elimination (high-performance liquid chromatography [HPLC] assay) were measured during the 12-h after its administration. The time of onset, the time from end of injection to recovery to 25% of control twitch tension (DUR25%), and the recovery index were 2.2 +/- 1.2, 54 +/- 14, and 37 +/- 11 min, respectively (mean +/- SD). Two hours after the injection of alcuronium, partial recovery from the neuromuscular block had occurred from 100% to 26% +/- 24% depression of twitch tension, although less than 25% of the injected dose was recovered from the urine. The 12-h plasma concentration and urinary recovery were 0.1 +/- 0.08 mg/L (one-sixth of the 50% inhibitory concentration) and 61% +/- 20%, respectively. Recovery from neuromuscular block was dominated by intercompartmental distribution rather than by renal elimination. Since alcuronium does not undergo biodegradation, our data may serve as a reference for the complex pharmacokinetics of readily metabolized modern muscle relaxants. The long plasma half-life with slow excretion merits attention with respect to the erroneous original perception that alcuronium was an intermediate-acting muscle relaxant.(Anesth Analg 1995;80:373-7)

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