Cochrane corner: sugammadex, a selective reversal medication for preventing postoperative residual neuromuscular blockade

Anesth Analg. 2010 Apr 1;110(4):1239. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3181ce8d5e.


Background: Sugammadex is the first selective relaxant binding agent that has been studied for reversal of neuromuscular blockade induced by rocuronium and other steroidal non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs).

Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of sugammadex in reversing neuromuscular blockade induced by steroidal non-depolarizing NMBAs and in preventing postoperative residual neuromuscular blockade.

Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2008, Issue 3), MEDLINE (1950 to August 2008), and EMBASE (1980 to August 2008). In addition, we handsearched reference lists of relevant articles and meeting abstracts. Furthermore, we contacted the medication's manufacturer for more information.

Selection criteria: All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on adult patients (> or = 18 years old) in which sugammadex was compared with placebo or other medications, or in which different doses of sugammadex were compared with each other. We excluded non-randomized trials and studies on healthy volunteers.

Data collection and analysis: We independently performed determination of trial inclusion, quality assessment, and data extraction. We applied standard meta- analytic techniques.

Main results: We included18 RCTs (n=1321 patients). Seven trials were published as full-text papers, and 11 trials only as meeting abstracts. All the included trials had adequate methods of randomization and allocation concealment. The results suggest that, compared with placebo or neostigmine, sugammadex can more rapidly reverse rocuronium-induced neuromuscular blockade regardless of the depth of the block. We identified 2, 4, and 16 mg/kg of sugammadex for reversal of rocuronium-induced neuromuscular blockade at T2 reappearance , 1 to 2 post-tetanic counts, and 3 to 5 minutes after rocuronium, respectively. The number of trials are very limited regarding vecuronium and pancuronium. Serious adverse events occurred in < 1% of all patients who received the medication. There was no significant difference between sugammadex and placebo in terms of the prevalence of drug-related adverse events (RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.61 to 2.37; P=0.59, I2=0%, 5 RCTs). Also, no significant difference was found between sugammadex and neostigmine for adverse events (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.48 to1.98; P=0.95, I2=43%, 3 RCTs).

Authors' conclusions: Sugammadex was shown to be effective in reversing rocuronium-induced neuromuscular blockade. This review has found no evidence of a difference in the instance of unwanted effects between sugammadex, placebo or neostigmine. These results need to be confirmed by future trials on larger patient populations and with more focus on patient-related outcomes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androstanols / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Anesthesia Recovery Period
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Neostigmine / adverse effects
  • Neuromuscular Blockade*
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rocuronium
  • Sugammadex
  • gamma-Cyclodextrins / adverse effects
  • gamma-Cyclodextrins / therapeutic use*


  • Androstanols
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents
  • gamma-Cyclodextrins
  • Sugammadex
  • Neostigmine
  • Rocuronium