JOURNAL ARTICLE

Myth: Atropine should be administered before succinylcholine for neonatal and pediatric intubation

Bethany Fleming, Maureen McCollough, Henderson O Henderson
CJEM 2005, 7 (2): 114-7
17355661
Succinylcholine is often used to facilitate neonatal and pediatric rapid sequence intubation in the emergency department, and most relevant literature recommends administering atropine prior to succinylcholine to reduce the risk of bradycardia. Given the potential complications associated with combining these medications, we searched the published literature for evidence supporting this practice. Most studies recommending atropine premedication were undertaken in the operating room setting and pertained to repeated succinylcholine dosing. Furthermore, there is little published evidence to indicate that succinylcholine-related bradycardia is a clinically important side effect. Several authors have called for the practice to cease, but, to date, these calls have gone unheeded. We found no evidence supporting atropine's use in pediatric patients prior to single-dose succinylcholine. Atropine premedication for emergency department rapid sequence intubation is unnecessary and should not be viewed as a "standard of care."

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