Pharmacokinetics, Placental Transfer, and Neonatal Effects of Vecuronium and Pancuronium Administered during Cesarean Section


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Abstract

Vecuronium and pancuronium were compared for placental transfer, pharmacokinetic variables, and neonatal effects during cesarean section under general anesthesia. Eighteen women underwent rapid-sequence intravenous induction using d-tubocurarine, succinylcholine, thiopental, and oxygen. Immediately after tracheal intubation, an intravenous injection of vecuronium (n = 11) or pancuronium (n = 7), 0.04 mg/kg, was given. Maternal venous blood samples were obtained before induction and at frequent intervals for 4 h after administration of vecuronium or pancuronium. Also, maternal venous and umbilical-cord arterial and venous blood samples were obtained at delivery. To describe placental transfer and maternal pharmacokinetics of the drugs, serum drug concentrations were determined using single-ion-monitoring mass spectrometry. The Apgar score and Neurologic and Adaptive Capacity Score (NACS) were used to evaluate neonatal condition. Both drugs crossed the placenta, as demonstrated by low concentrations of vecuronium (8.5–26.4 ng/ml) or pancuronium (12.2–34.2 ng/ml) found in umbilical venous blood. At delivery, the ratio of the drug concentration in umbilical venous blood to that in maternal venous blood was 0.11 ± 0.02 for vecuronium and 0.19 ± 0.03 for pancuronium. Vecuronium had a more rapid clearance (6.4 ± 0.4 ml±kg−1± min−1, mean ± SE) and a shorter elimination half-life (36 ± 1.8 min) than pancuronium (3.0 ± 0.1 ml·kg−1 · min−1 and 72 ± 6 min, respectively). No other pharmacokinetic differences were found between the drugs. Neonatal outcome was not affected adversely by either muscle relaxant, as assessed by Apgar scores and NACSs. The short duration of action, the minimal placental transfer, and the apparent lack of clinical neuromuscular effects on the newborn suggest that vecuronium should be a useful muscle relaxant for cesarean section.

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