Utility of neuromuscular blockade reversal in the evaluation of acute neurosurgical patients: A retrospective case-series


      • Lingering rocuronium effects affect perceived patient neurologic status.
      • Rocuronium lingering effects can be prolonged in acute neurosurgical patients.
      • Rocuronium reversal can drastically impact neurosurgical decision making.
      • Sugammadex can serve as a useful tool in acute neurosurgical settings.



      Sugammadex reversal of neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) is usually performed postoperatively. A scarcity of literature exists exploring sugammadex use for timely neurological examination of neurosurgical patients. NMBAs, like rocuronium, are used in the Emergency Department during intubation and their unpredictable duration of action often impedes timely and accurate assessment of patient neurological status. We aim to explore the role of sugammadex in evaluating patients in need of acute neurosurgical care.


      Retrospective assessment of patients presenting with traumatic brain injury or intracranial hemorrhage was conducted at our level 1 trauma center. Patients of interest were those for whom sugammadex reversal of rocuronium neuromuscular blockade, from intubating doses, was pursued to ensure timely neurologic assessment. Nine patients were identified for whom GCS pre-/post-sugammadex, rocuronium dosing, elapsed time between rocuronium administration and reversal, and clinical course data were retrieved.


      Arrival GCS was 5.2 ± 3.2, with intubation accomplished within 10 ± 2.5 min of presentation. Rocuronium dosing was consistent between patients, average single dose of 1.2 ± 0.3 mg/kg. Lingering neuromuscular blockade ranged from 28 to 132 min (87.3 ± 34.3 min). All patients exhibited a GCS of 3 T upon initial neurosurgical evaluation, prior to reversal. Post-reversal GCS rose to 6.0 T ± 2.2. Sugammadex facilitated more accurate clinical decision making in 8 of 9 patients, including prevention of unnecessary invasive procedures. Two of 9 patients were eventually discharged home or to a rehabilitation facility.


      Rocuronium neuromuscular blockade can linger beyond pharmacokinetic predictions, thus delaying timely and precise neurologic assessment. Our data suggests sugammadex may be a useful addition to the clinician’s armamentarium for acute neurologic assessment in the neurosurgical population. Sugammadex may impact clinical decision-making in certain patients and allow for more informed decision-making by families and physicians alike. Prospective studies are needed to definitively assess the impact of sugammadex on outcomes in acute neurosurgical settings.


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