Residual paralysis at the time of tracheal extubation

Glenn S. Murphy*, Joseph W. Szokol, Jesse H. Marymont, Mark Franklin, Michael J. Avram, Jeffery S. Vender

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Respiratory and pharyngeal muscle function are impaired during minimal neuromuscular blockade. Tracheal extubation in the presence of residual paresis may contribute to adverse respiratory events. In this investigation, we assessed the incidence and severity of residual neuromuscular block at the time of tracheal extubation. One-hundred-twenry patients presenting for gynecologic or general surgical procedures were enrolled. Neuromuscular blockade was maintained with rocuronium (visual train-of-four [TOF] count of 2) and all subjects were reversed with neostigmine at a TOF count of 2-4. TOF ratios were quantified using acceleromyography immediately before tracheal extubation, after clinicians had determined that complete neuromuscular recovery had occurred using standard clinical criteria (5-s head lift or hand grip, eye opening on command, acceptable negative inspiratory force or vital capacity breath values) and peripheral nerve stimulation (no evidence of fade with TOF or tetanic stimulation). TOF ratios were measured again on arrival to the postanesthesia care unit. Immediately before tracheal extubation, the mean TOF ratio was 0.67 ± 0.2; among the 120 patients, 70 (58%) had a TOF ratio <0.7 and 105 (88%) had a TOF ratio <0.9. Significantly fewer patients had TOF ratios <0.7 (9 subjects, 8%) and <0.9 (38 subjects, 32%) in the postanesthesia care unit compared with the operating room (P < 0.001). Our results suggest that complete recovery from neuromuscular blockade is rarely present at the time of tracheal extubation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1840-1845
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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