The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the stereoisomers of mivacurium in patients receiving nitrous oxide/opioid/barbiturate anesthesia

Anesthesiology. 1994 Jun;80(6):1296-302. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199406000-00017.


Background: Mivacurium consists of a mixture of three stereoisomers: cis-trans (34-40%), trans-trans (52-60%), and cis-cis (4-8%). These isomers differ in potency (the trans-trans and the cis-trans isomers are equipotent and the cis-cis isomer is 1/13th as potent a neuromuscular blocking agent) and in rates of in vitro hydrolysis (in vitro half-lives are less than 2 min for the cis-trans and trans-trans isomers and 276 min for the cis-cis isomer). The current study was undertaken to determine the pharmacokinetic profile of the individual stereoisomers of mivacurium, to evaluate the dose-proportionality of the more potent trans-trans and cis-trans isomers, and to evaluate the pharmacodynamics of mivacurium in healthy adult patients receiving a consecutive two-step infusion of mivacurium.

Methods: Eighteen ASA physical status 1 or 2 adult male patients undergoing elective surgery under nitrous oxide/oxygen/fentanyl anesthesia were studied. Neuromuscular function was monitored using a mechanomyograph at a frequency of 0.15 Hz. An infusion of mivacurium was begun at 5 Sixty minutes later, the infusion rate was doubled to 10, and, 60 min after that, the infusion was discontinued. All patients were allowed to recover spontaneously from mivacurium-induced neuromuscular block. Venous blood samples were drawn for the determination of the plasma concentrations of each isomer of mivacurium by a stereospecific high performance liquid chromatographic method. Pharmacokinetic parameters were determined using noncompartmental analysis.

Results: During the infusion, patients developed 83.2 +/- 13.6% neuromuscular block. Increasing the infusion to 10 increased the depth of block to 99.0 +/- 2.0%. After discontinuation of the infusion, patients returned to 25% of their baseline muscle strength in 9.3 +/- 3.7 min and had 25-75% and 5-95% recovery indexes of 7.2 +/- 1.8 and 16.8 +/- 3.7 min, respectively. The volumes of distribution (V beta) of the cis-trans, trans-trans, and cis-cis isomers were 0.29 +/- 0.24, 0.15 +/- 0.05, and 0.34 +/- 0.08 l/kg, respectively. During the infusion, the steady-state clearances of the potent cis-trans and trans-trans isomers were 106 +/- 67 and 63 +/- 34, respectively; the clearance of the less potent cis-cis isomer was 4.6 +/- 1.1 The elimination half-lives of the cis-trans and trans-trans isomers were 1.8 +/- 1.1 and 1.9 +/- 0.7 min, respectively, and that of the cis-cis isomer was 52.9 +/- 19.8 min. Clearance of the cis-trans and trans-trans isomers did not vary with infusion rate.

Conclusions: The short elimination half-lives and high metabolic clearances of the potent cis-trans and trans-trans isomers are consistent with the short duration of action of mivacurium. The cis-cis isomer does not appear to produce significant neuromuscular block as evident by the return of twitch height to baseline despite persistent cis-cis isomer concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fentanyl
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines / blood
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mivacurium
  • Nerve Block
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents / blood
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Oxygen
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Isoquinolines
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents
  • Mivacurium
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Oxygen
  • Fentanyl