Comparison of recovery after sugammadex or neostigmine reversal of rocuronium in geriatric patients undergoing spine surgery: a randomized controlled trial

Croat Med J. 2021 Dec 31;62(6):606-613. doi: 10.3325/cmj.2021.62.606.


Aim: To evaluate the effect of sugammadex compared with neostigmine on speed and quality of recovery after rocuronium neuromuscular blockade (NMB) in geriatric patients undergoing posterior lumbar spine surgery.

Methods: This randomized controlled study at a tertiary academic medical center involved 40 patients (age ≥65 years, ASA PS II/III) scheduled for elective surgery under general anesthesia. Patients were randomized to sugammadex or neostigmine for reversal of moderate NMB with rocuronium. The primary outcome was recovery time from NMB after surgery to a train-of-four (TOF) ratio ≥0.9 measured at the adductor pollicis (TOF-Watch® SX). Secondary outcomes included hemodynamic change after administration of reversal agent (heart rate, blood pressure, dysrhythmia), time to extubation, pain medication requirement, time to first ambulation, and length of postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and total hospital stay.

Results: Sugammadex (4±2.2 min) compared with neostigmine reversal (26.3±17.5 min) was on average 22 min faster (95% CI 14.1-30.5; P≤0.001) with less variability (range 2-11 min vs 5-72 min). The groups significantly differed in time for tracheal extubation, response to verbal commands (open eyes, squeeze hand, lift head), and operating room exit. However, they had similar PACU stay, time to first ambulation, total hospital stay, postoperative pain, and opioid use. Sugammadex had less hemodynamic variability than neostigmine. No patient developed treatment-emergent dysrhythmias.

Conclusion: Sugammadex reversal significantly hastened NMB recovery compared with neostigmine reversal in geriatric patients. It significantly decreased operating room time but not PACU time or hospital stay.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Neostigmine
  • Neuromuscular Blockade*
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents*
  • Rocuronium
  • Sugammadex


  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents
  • Sugammadex
  • Neostigmine
  • Rocuronium