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Anesthesiology. 2005 Jan;102(1):35-40.

Succinylcholine dosage and apnea-induced hemoglobin desaturation in patients.

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Department of Anesthesia, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



The authors examined the notion that a reduction in succinylcholine dose from 1 mg/kg to approximately 0.6 mg/kg would allow a faster recovery of spontaneous ventilation and reduction in the incidence of hemoglobin desaturation during the period of apnea in simulated complete upper airway obstruction situations.


This prospective, randomized, double-blind study involved 60 patients. After preoxygenation to an end-tidal oxygen concentration >90%, patients were anesthetized with 2 microg/kg fentanyl and 2 mg/kg propofol. After loss of consciousness, patients were randomly allocated to receive 0.56 or 1.0 mg/kg succinylcholine or saline (control group). Oxygen saturation was monitored continuously at the index finger. When the patient became apneic, the face mask was removed and the patient's airway was left unsupported. If the oxygen saturation decreased to 90%, the face mask was reapplied, and ventilation was assisted until the patient was awake. Time from injection of the study drug to the first visible spontaneous diaphragmatic movements was noted.


Oxygen saturation decreased <90% in 45%, 65%, and 85% of patients in the control, 0.56 mg/kg, and 1.0 mg/kg succinylcholine groups, respectively (P = 0.03). Corresponding times (mean +/- SD) to spontaneous of diaphragmatic movements were 2.7 +/- 1.2, 4.8 +/- 2.5, and 4.7 +/- 1.3 min, respectively. These times were longer (P < 0.001) after either dose of succinylcholine compared with controls.


Reduction in succinylcholine dose from 1.0 mg/kg to 0.56 mg/kg decreased the incidence of hemoglobin saturation <90% from 85% to 65% but did not shorten the time to spontaneous diaphragmatic movements. A significant fraction of patients would be at risk if there were failure to intubate and ventilate whether succinylcholine is administered or not and regardless of the dose of succinylcholine administered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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