Accelerometry of adductor pollicis muscle predicts recovery of respiratory function from neuromuscular blockade

Anesthesiology. 2003 Jun;98(6):1333-7. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200306000-00006.


Background: Residual paralysis increases the risk of pulmonary complications but is difficult to detect. To test the hypothesis that accelerometry predicts effects of residual paralysis on pulmonary and upper airway function, the authors related tests of pulmonary and pharyngeal function to accelerometry of adductor pollicis muscle in 12 partially paralyzed volunteers.

Methods: Rocuronium (0.01 mg/kg + 2-10 microg x kg-1 x min-1) was administered to maintain train-of-four (TOF) ratios (assessed every 15 s) of approximately 0.5 and 0.8 over a period of more than 5 min. The authors evaluated pharyngeal and facial muscle functions during steady state relaxation and performed spirometric measurements every 5 min until recovery. Upper airway obstruction was defined as a mean ratio of expiratory and inspiratory flow at 50% of vital capacity of greater than 1. The TOF ratio associated with "acceptable" pulmonary recovery (forced vital capacity and forced inspiratory volume in 1 s of > or =90% of baseline) was calculated using a linear regression model.

Results: At peak blockade (TOF ratio 0.5 +/- 0.16), forced inspiratory flow was impaired (53 +/- 19%) to a greater degree than forced expiratory flow (75 +/- 20%) with a mean ratio of expiratory and inspiratory flow at 50% of vital capacity of 1.18 +/- 0.6. Upper airway obstruction, observed in 8 of 12 volunteers, paralleled an impaired ability to swallow reported by 10 of 12 volunteers. In contrast, all volunteers except one could sustain a head lift for more than 5 s. The authors calculated that a mean TOF ratio of 0.56 (95% confidence interval, 0.22-0.71) predicts "acceptable" recovery of forced vital capacity, whereas forced inspiratory volume in 1 s was impaired until a TOF ratio of 0.95 (0.82-1.18) was reached. A 100% recovery of TOF ratio predicts an acceptable recovery of forced vital capacity, forced inspiratory volume in 1 s, and mean ratio of expiratory and inspiratory flow at 50% of vital capacity in 93%, 73%, and 88% of measurements (calculated negative predictive values), respectively.

Conclusion: Impaired inspiratory flow and upper airway obstruction frequently occur during minimal neuromuscular blockade (TOF ratio 0.8), and extubation may put the patient at risk. Although a TOF ratio of unity predicts a high probability of adequate recovery from neuromuscular blockade, respiratory function can still be impaired.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androstanols
  • Anesthesia Recovery Period*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Neuromuscular Blockade* / adverse effects
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents
  • Paralysis / etiology
  • Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Pharyngeal Muscles / physiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Rocuronium
  • Thumb / physiology
  • Vital Capacity


  • Androstanols
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents
  • Rocuronium