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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2005 Mar;49(3):312-5.

Variability of duration of action of neuromuscular-blocking drugs in elderly patients.

Author information

1
Department of Anaesthesiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Steroid-based, non-depolarizing neuromuscular-blocking (NMB) drugs (e.g. rocuronium, vecuronium) are characterized by organ-dependent elimination and significantly longer durations of action in elderly compared to young patients. Cisatracurium is a benzylisoquinolinium NMB drug with a duration of action not altered by ageing. The objective of the study was to determine if elderly patients had less variability in duration of action with 2 x ED95 of cisatracurium compared to equipotent doses of rocuronium or vecuronium.

METHODS:

Informed consent was obtained from 66 elderly patients with normal renal and liver function. Preoperative midazolam (1 mg) was given IV. The anaesthestic induction was with 5 mg kg(-1) thiopental and 2 microg kg(-1) fentanyl. The patients received 0.6 mg kg(-1) rocuronium, 0.1 mg kg(-1) vecuronium or 0.1 mg kg(-1) cisatracurium. Anaesthetic maintenance was with sevoflurane in oxygen/nitrous oxide. Neuromuscular-blocking duration of action was defined as the return of T1 twitch height to 25% of control. Variability was determined by subtracting the actual duration of action from the mean duration of action for each drug.

RESULTS:

The durations of action (range, min) were: cisatracurium, 37-81; vecuronium, 35-137; and rocuronium, 33-119. The median of the variability of duration was significantly less with cisatracurium (7 min) compared to vecuronium (18 min) and rocuronium (18 min) (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION:

When used with sevoflurane/N(2)O, there was a two-fold greater variability of duration of neuromuscular blockade in elderly patients receiving rocuronium or vecuronium compared with cisatracurium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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