Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of vecuronium in children receiving phenytoin or carbamazepine for chronic anticonvulsant therapy

Br J Anaesth. 2001 Feb;86(2):223-9. doi: 10.1093/bja/86.2.223.


The pharmacokinetics and time course of action of vecuronium in normal children and children receiving anticonvulsant drugs for prolonged periods were characterized. A bolus dose of vecuronium 0.15 mg kg(-1) was administered i.v. to 10 non-epileptic children and to 10 children on phenytoin and 10 children on carbamazepine, who were matched for age and weight. Plasma concentrations of vecuronium, 3-OH desacetylvecuronium (the primary metabolite of vecuronium) and alpha1-acid glycoprotein (AAG) were determined. Pharmacokinetic variables were derived from plasma samples collected before and after administration of vecuronium. Neuromuscular transmission was monitored by evoked compound electromyography. Recovery of the first twitch of the train-of-four (T1/T0) and the recovery index (RI), the time for 25-75% recovery of T1/T0, were determined. The elimination half-life of vecuronium was significantly reduced in both anticonvulsant groups compared with control [control 48.2 (SD 40.3), phenytoin 23.5 (13.1), carbamazepine 18.4 (16.6) min, P<0.05]. Vecuronium clearance was increased in both anticonvulsant groups [control 9.0 (3.6), phenytoin 15.1 (8.9), carbamazepine 18.8 (13.1) ml kg(-1) min(-1), 0.05<P<0.1]. Children on chronic anticonvulsant therapy had a significantly shorter RI than control [control 21.8 (11), phenytoin 12.5 (8.3), carbamazepine 10.6 (5.9) min, P<0.05]. Concentrations of vecuronium at different degrees of recovery of T1, volumes of distribution and AAG concentrations were not different between groups. Our data confirm anticonvulsant-induced resistance to vecuronium in children and support a pharmacokinetic component contributing to the resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Anticonvulsants / blood
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Carbamazepine / pharmacology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electromyography / drug effects
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents / blood
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Orosomucoid / metabolism
  • Phenytoin / pharmacology*
  • Vecuronium Bromide / blood
  • Vecuronium Bromide / pharmacology*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents
  • Orosomucoid
  • Carbamazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Vecuronium Bromide