Management of rocuronium neuromuscular block using a protocol for qualitative monitoring and reversal with neostigmine

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Abstract

Background

Neuromuscular block using subjective monitoring and neostigmine reversal is commonly associated with postoperative residual neuromuscular block. We tested whether a protocol for the management of neuromuscular block that specified appropriate dosing and optimal neostigmine reversal was associated with a reduction in postoperative residual neuromuscular block.

Methods

Rocuronium administration was guided by surgical requirements and based on the ideal body weight, with dose reductions for female sex and age >55 yr. Neostigmine was administered in adjusted doses after a train-of-four count of four was confirmed at the thumb. The protocol ensured a minimum of 10 min between neostigmine administration and tracheal extubation. We measured the postoperative residual neuromuscular block in patients undergoing abdominal surgery before and after introduction of the protocol. Pre-specified primary and secondary endpoints were incidence of postoperative residual neuromuscular block and severe postoperative residual neuromuscular block at the time of tracheal extubation, defined as normalised train-of-four ratios <0.9 and <0.7, respectively.

Results

The incidence of postoperative residual neuromuscular block at tracheal extubation was 14/40 (35%) for patients managed according to the protocol compared with 22/38 (58%) for patients in the control group, odds ratio of 0.39, and 95% confidence interval of 0.14–1.07; P=0.068. The incidence of severe postoperative residual neuromuscular block at tracheal extubation showed a highly significant difference, odds ratio=0.06, and confidence interval of 0.00–0.43; P=0.001.

Conclusions

The incidence of severe postoperative residual neuromuscular block was significantly reduced after the protocol was introduced. Given the limitations inherent in this before-and-after study, further research is needed to confirm these results.

Clinical trial registration

NCT02660398.

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