The place of suxamethonium in pediatric anesthesia

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Suxamethonium is a drug that promotes very strong views both for and against its use in the context of pediatric anesthesia. As such, the continuing debate is an excellent topic for a ‘Pro–Con’ debate. Despite ongoing efforts by drug companies, the popular view still remains that there is no single neuromuscular blocking drug that can match suxamethonium in terms of speed of onset of neuromuscular block and return of neuromuscular control. However, with this drug the balance of benefit vs risk and side effects are pivotal. Suxamethonium has significant adverse effects, some of which can be life threatening. This is particularly relevant for pediatric anesthesia because the spectrum of childhood diseases may expose susceptible individuals to an increased likelihood of adverse events compared with adults. Additionally, the concerns related to airway control in the infant may encourage the occasional pediatric anesthetist to use the drug in preference to slower onset/offset drugs. In the current environment of drug research, surveillance and licensing, it is debatable whether this drug would achieve the central place it still has in pediatric anesthesia. The arguments for and against its use are set out below by our two international experts, Marcin Rawicz from Poland and Barbara Brandom from USA. This will allow the reader an objective evaluation with which to make an informed choice about the use of suxamethonium in their practice.

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