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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Plethysmechanomyography (PMG). A simple method for monitoring muscle relaxation]

G Pohlen, F C Ribeiro, G Scheiber
Der Anaesthesist 1994, 43 (12): 773-9
7717517
Ideal evaluation of neuromuscular blockade can be done by mechanical or electromyographical registration of muscle contractions evoked by ulnar nerve stimulation. Unfortunately, devices needed for such registration are expensive or complicated to set up, and thus are not often used for routine monitoring in anaesthesia. In this study, we describe a simple and low-priced method permitting intra- and postoperative monitoring of neuromuscular blocking agents. The accuracy of plethysmomechanomyography (PMG) was evaluated by comparing simultaneous electromyographic (EMG) and plethysmographic measurements. METHODS. For plethysmographic registration of muscle response to nerve stimulation a simple infusion system is twisted there to five times around one hand and connected to an anaesthetic monitor via a pressure transducer. The drip chamber is fixed about 20 cm above the hand (Fig. 1). Then, the infusion system is then filled up-with physiologic saline solution and the clamp is nearly closed. Electric stimulation can be carried out using any nerve stimulator. Using this method, PMG mainly records the contractions of abductor digiti minimi muscle, but also partly those of the interossei. Evoked muscle contractions cause stretching of the infusion system, which leads to pressure changes proportional to the strength of contraction. The muscle response to "train-of-four" (TOF) stimulation of the ulnar nerve was recorded simultaneously by EMG and PMG in 11 patients (ASA class I or II) undergoing neurosurgical procedures and therefore requiring muscle relaxation. After induction of anaesthesia by injection of etomidate and fentanyl, supramaximal stimulation and control values (T0) were defined. Anaesthesia was maintained by supplementation with nitrous oxide/oxygen (1:2) and muscle relaxation was carried out with vecuronium. We used the integrated nerve stimulator of a Datex Relaxograph NMT-100 EMG monitor and proceeded to stimulate the ulnar nerve at the forearm with supramaximal strength. The PMG was registered by a Siemens Siredoc 220 printer connected to a Siemens Sirecust 1281 anaesthetic monitor. First twitch ratio (T1/T0) and TOF ratio (T4/T1) were calculated from these recordings. The EMG recordings were made by a Datex Relaxograph NMT-100 monitor, which automatically computes T1/T0 and T4/T1. The comparison of EMG and PMG values was carried out by simple linear regression. Statistical evaluation was performed using analysis of variance. RESULTS. A plethysmographically registered graph of the TOF-evoked muscle response is illustrated in Fig. 2. Simultaneous EMG and PMG recordings of onset and recovery from a nondepolarizing blockade are shown in Fig. 3. A strong positive correlation (P < 0.001) of EMG and PMG was found with correlation coefficients of 0.98 for T1/T0 and of 0.97 for T4/T1. The mean difference between values of both methods was 5%, maximally 18% (T1/T0) and 20% (T4/T1). CONCLUSIONS. Mechanomyography and EMG are well established methods of neuromuscular monitoring. Our data demonstrate that PMG provides a reliable measurement of neuromuscular transmission that correlates well with EMG. Since only materials of daily use in anaesthesia are needed, no substantial costs will arise when the plethysmographic method of measurement is used for routine anesthetic monitoring.

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