• Anesthesiology · Nov 1997

    Functional assessment of the pharynx at rest and during swallowing in partially paralyzed humans: simultaneous videomanometry and mechanomyography of awake human volunteers.

    Observation of pharyngeal function in 14 awake volunteers demonstrated pharyngeal dysfunction and increased aspiration risk at TOF ratios < 0.90.

    “Partial neuromuscular paralysis caused by atracurium is associated with a four- to fivefold increase in the incidence of misdirected swallowing. … The majority of misdirected swallows resulted in penetration of bolus to the larynx.”

    (Sundman in a 2000 follow-up study: The incidence and mechanisms of pharyngeal and upper esophageal dysfunction in partially paralyzed humans: pharyngeal videoradiography and simultaneous manometry after atracurium.)

    summary
    • L I Eriksson, E Sundman, R Olsson, L Nilsson, H Witt, O Ekberg, and R Kuylenstierna.
    • Department of Anesthesiology, Karolinska Hospital and Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
    • Anesthesiology. 1997 Nov 1;87(5):1035-43.

    BackgroundFunctional characteristics of the pharynx and upper esophagus, including aspiration episodes, were investigated in 14 awake volunteers during various levels of partial neuromuscular block. Pharyngeal function was evaluated using videoradiography and computerized pharyngeal manometry during contrast bolus swallowing.MethodsMeasurements of pharyngeal constrictor muscle function (contraction amplitude, duration, and slope), upper esophageal sphincter muscle resting tone, muscle coordination, bolus transit time, and aspiration under fluoroscopic control (laryngeal or tracheal penetration) were made before (control measurements) and during a vecuronium-induced partial neuromuscular paralysis, at fixed intervals of mechanical adductor pollicis muscle train-of-four (TOF) fade; that is, at TOF ratios of 0.60, 0.70, 0.80, and after recovery to a TOF ratio > 0.90.ResultsSix volunteers aspirated (laryngeal penetration) at a TOF ratio < 0.90. None of them aspirated at a TOF ratio > 0.90 or during control recording. Pharyngeal constrictor muscle function was not affected at any level of paralysis. The upper esophageal sphincter resting tone was significantly reduced at TOF ratios of 0.60, 0.70, and 0.80 (P < 0.05). This was associated with reduced muscle coordination and shortened bolus transit time at a TOF ratio of 0.60.ConclusionsVecuronium-induced partial paralysis cause pharyngeal dysfunction and increased risk for aspiration at mechanical adductor pollicis TOF ratios < 0.90. Pharyngeal function is not normalized until an adductor pollicis TOF ratio of > 0.90 is reached. The upper esophageal sphincter muscle is more sensitive to vecuronium than is the pharyngeal constrictor muscle.

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    This article appears in the collection: Neuromuscular myths: the lies we tell ourselves.

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    summary
    1

    Observation of pharyngeal function in 14 awake volunteers demonstrated pharyngeal dysfunction and increased aspiration risk at TOF ratios < 0.90.

    “Partial neuromuscular paralysis caused by atracurium is associated with a four- to fivefold increase in the incidence of misdirected swallowing. … The majority of misdirected swallows resulted in penetration of bolus to the larynx.”

    (Sundman in a 2000 follow-up study: The incidence and mechanisms of pharyngeal and upper esophageal dysfunction in partially paralyzed humans: pharyngeal videoradiography and simultaneous manometry after atracurium.)

    Daniel Jolley  Daniel Jolley
     
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