[Neuromuscular blockades. Agents, monitoring and antagonism]

J-U Schreiber, T Fuchs-Buder
Der Anaesthesist 2006, 55 (11): 1225-35; quiz 1236
Currently, the main aims of using neuromuscular blocking agents during general anaesthesia are the improvement of surgical and intubation conditions. Neuromuscular blocking agents themselves are neither analgesic nor anaesthetic. All agents interact with the acetylcholinergic receptor at the neuromuscular junction and induce a blockade either through a continuous activation imitating the effect of acetylcholine or through a competitive antagonism against acetylcholine. Succinylcholine is the only depolarizing muscle relaxant that is in clinical use. Non-depolarizing neuromuscular blockers may be grouped by their chemical structure into benzylisoquinolines or aminosteroids, and cover the complete range from short and intermediate, to long acting agents. Possible adverse drug reactions to the single agents are also related to their mechanism of action. Moreover, pharmacokinetic properties and effects such as histamine liberation could play an important role when choosing a myorelaxant. The depth of a neuromuscular block and recovery from paralysis can be monitored using qualitative and quantitative techniques. Therefore, the monitoring of neuromuscular recovery plays an important role in the prevention of postoperative complications due to residual paralysis. In case of residual paralysis, cholinesterase inhibitors are suitable for reversal.

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