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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1992 Oct;36(7):710-5.

Attenuated ventilatory response to hypoxaemia at vecuronium-induced partial neuromuscular block.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Sweden.


The effect of a partial neuromuscular block on the ventilatory response to hypercarbia and to hypoxaemia was studied in 11 non-anaesthetized male subjects. Respiratory frequency, tidal volume, minute volume, respiratory timing and drive were measured during air breathing and during stimulation by hypercarbia and hypoxaemia. The ventilatory response was defined as the ratio between, respectively, tidal volume and minute volume during ventilation stimulated by hypercarbia and hypoxaemia compared to measurements during air breathing. The ventilatory measurements were repeated on three separate occasions: before neuromuscular block was established, during an infusion of vecuronium aiming at a mechanical adductor pollicis train-of-four (TOF) ratio of 0.70, and after the infusion had been stopped and the neuromuscular block had spontaneously recovered to a TOF ratio of > 0.90. Resting ventilation during air breathing remained with minor variations throughout the experiment. The ventilatory response to hypercarbia was not affected at a TOF ratio of 0.70 as compared to measurements before vecuronium and at a TOF ratio of > 0.90. In contrast, the ventilatory response to hypoxaemia was markedly reduced at a TOF ratio of 0.70. We conclude that a mechanical TOF ratio of 0.70 following vecuronium may be associated with an inadequate ventilatory response to hypoxaemia.

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