Qualitative Neuromuscular Monitoring: How to Optimize the Use of a Peripheral Nerve Stimulator to Reduce the Risk of Residual Neuromuscular Blockade

Curr Anesthesiol Rep. 2016;6:164-169. doi: 10.1007/s40140-016-0155-8. Epub 2016 Mar 22.


This review provides recommendations for anesthesia providers who may not yet have quantitative monitoring and sugammadex available and thus are providing care within the limitations of a conventional peripheral nerve stimulator (PNS) and neostigmine. In order to achieve best results, the provider needs to understand the limitations of the PNS. The PNS should be applied properly and early. All overdosing of neuromuscular blocking drugs should be avoided and the intraoperative neuromuscular blockade should be maintained only as deep as necessary. The adductor pollicis is the gold standard site and must be used for the pre-reversal assessment, also when the ulnar nerve and thumb were not accessible intraoperatively. Spontaneous recovery should be maximized and neostigmine should be administered after a TOF count of 4 has been confirmed at the adductor pollicis. Extubation should not occur within 10 min after administration of an appropriate dose of neostigmine.

Keywords: Neuromuscular block antagonism; Neuromuscular block reversal; Neuromuscular monitoring; Qualitative neuromuscular monitoring; Residual neuromuscular blockade; Residual paralysis.

Publication types

  • Review