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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1995 Feb;39(2):150-6.

Plasma cholinesterase and abnormal reaction to succinylcholine: twenty years' experience with the Danish Cholinesterase Research Unit.

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  • 1Danish Cholinesterase Research Unit, Department of Anaesthesia, National University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


For more than 20 years, the Danish Cholinesterase Research Unit (DCRU) has collected information about patients showing an abnormal response to succinylcholine. The purpose of this study was, on the basis of the 20 years' experiences with the Unit, to evaluate our clinical findings in patients referred because of prolonged response following succinylcholine. Also, we wanted to evaluate the results of our prospective controlled studies of the effect of succinylcholine in patients with normal and abnormal plasma cholinesterase genotypes. An explanation for the apparent abnormal response to succinylcholine was found in 61.1% of the 1,247 patients referred to the Unit. Of the 1,247 patients, 28.5% were genotypically normal and 46.5% had an abnormal genotype. In the remaining 24.9% of the patients, the genotype could not be established. The time to sufficient recovery of neuromuscular function following succinylcholine 1.0-1.5 mg kg-1 was 15-30 min in patients heterozygous for one abnormal gene, 35-45 min in patients heterozygous for two abnormal genes and 90-180 min in patients homozygous for the atypical gene. Patients with two newly discovered genotypes (AK (5 patients) and AH (1 patient) showed slightly prolonged (20 min) and markedly prolonged (90 min) duration of action of succinylcholine, respectively. Our results indicate that it is a problem for many anaesthetists to correctly diagnose a prolonged response to succinylcholine. We therefore urge the anaesthetist always to use a peripheral nerve stimulator when faced with a case of apparent abnormal response to succinylcholine.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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