The Use of Curare During Anesthesia to Prevent Iatrogenic Muscle Damage Caused by Lumbar Spinal Surgery Through a Posterior Approach

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Study Design.

Prospective randomized study of patients undergoing lumbar arthrodesis.


To evaluate the use of curare during anesthesia to limit muscle lesions caused by surgery.

Summary of Background Data.

It has been shown that lumbar spine surgery through a posterior approach can induce iatrogenic lesions in the erector spinae. The prevention of these lesions by intraoperative cholinergic blockade has never been evaluated.


Twenty patients scheduled to undergo pedicle-screw enhanced L4–L5 arthrodesis were enrolled in this study. The average age was 48.9 years. Ten patients received curare during anesthesia and 10 patients did not. Postoperative pain was assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS) and the consumption of morphine by patient-controlled analgesia during the first 24 hours. Intramuscular pressure (IMP) in the multifidus was monitored during the intervention. A biopsy of the multifidus muscle was performed at the end of the intervention for histologic study. Serum activity of the MM iso-enzyme of the creatine phosphokinase (CPK-MM) was measured 24 hours after surgery.


The average consumption of morphine and the mean value of the VAS at 24 hours were not statistically different between these 2 groups. The use of a self-retaining retractor during lumbar surgery resulted in a substantial increase in IMP, resulting in histologic muscle lesions and an increase in serum CPK-MM activity. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups of patients.


The use of curare during anesthesia did not limit the muscle damage caused by surgery.

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