Thumb adductor twitch response to train-of-four (2 Hz for 2 seconds) stimulation of the ulnar nerve was used to assess the clinical characteristics of long-term neuromuscular blockade induced with continuous infusion of succinylcholine during balanced (N2O-O2-narcotic-thiopental) anesthesia. Twitch depression of 80 to 90% was maintained for 86 to 365 minutes by continuous infusion of succinylcholine at 86 ± 5 (SEM) μg/min. Of 32 patients, 24 developed phase II block, defined as a train-of-four ratio of less than 50%. There was a large degree of individual variability in sensitivity to development of phase II block. This precluded defining a narrow dose range where transition from phase I to phase II occurred. Tachyphylaxis occurred in 25% of patients and was independent of the block. Neither dose nor duration of infusion was predictive of spontaneous recovery rate from phase II block. Of 24 patients who developed phase II block, 50% recovered spontaneously at a rate comparable to the recovery rate from a phase I block. The other 50% manifested prolonged recovery of neuromuscular function. After observing spontaneous recovery in these patients for 31 ± 5 (SEM) minutes, successful antagonism of residual phase II block with anticholinesterase agents was achieved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine