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Br J Anaesth. 2012 Mar;108(3):444-51. doi: 10.1093/bja/aer419. Epub 2011 Dec 26.

Sex-related differences in the relationship between acceleromyographic adductor pollicis train-of-four ratio and clinical manifestations of residual neuromuscular block: a study in healthy volunteers during near steady-state infusion of mivacurium.

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Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Studies in volunteers suggest that train-of-four (TOF) ratios >0.9 are needed to retain normal function of muscles involved in upper airway patency, swallowing, and vital capacity breathing. We determined if sex-related differences exist in the relationship between adductor pollicis (AP) TOF ratio and measures of neuromuscular function commonly used to assess recovery from neuromuscular block.


In 10 males and 10 females, three steady-state levels of neuromuscular block were achieved with mivacurium infusions. TOF ratio was measured with acceleromyography at the AP. Hand grip strength and the ability to clench the teeth, raise the head >5 s, swallow, protrude the tongue, and open the eyes were tested at each stable block level and reconciled to uncorrected and normalized (pre-paralysis values) TOF measures. These relationships were compared between sexes.


The ability to clench teeth and head raise >5 s was lost at a significantly greater TOF ratio in males than females. The percentage decrease in handgrip strength with decreasing TOF ratio was proportionally greater in males than females. Forty per cent of the males were unable to clench the teeth at an uncorrected TOF ratio >0.9. When TOF ratios were normalized, clinical functions showed no decrement at TOF ratio >0.9 in any volunteer.


Sex-related differences exist in the relationship between AP TOF ratio and clinical measures of muscle function used to assess recovery from neuromuscular block. Normalization of AP TOF ratios is recommended because a non-normalized TOF ratio of 0.9 does not guarantee adequate reversal of neuromuscular block.

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