Prolonged paralysis due to nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents and corticosteroids

Richard J. Barohn, Carlayne E. Jackson, Susan J. Rogers, Larry W. Ridings, April L. McVey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


The long‐term use of nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents (ND‐NMBA) has recently been implicated as a cause of prolonged muscle weakness, although the site of the lesion and the predisposing factors have been unclear. We report 3 patients (age 37–52 years) with acute respiratory insufficiency who developed prolonged weakness following the discontinuation of ND‐NMBAs. Two patients also received intravenous corticosteroids. Renal function was normal but hepatic function was impaired in all patients, and all had acidosis. Electrophysiologic studies revealed low amplitude compound motor action potentials, normal sensory studies, and fibrillations. Repetitive stimulation at 2 Hz showed a decremental response in 2 patients. The serum vecuronium level measured in 1 patient 14 days after the drug had been discontinued was 172 ng/mL. A muscle biopsy in this patient showed loss of thick, myosin filaments. The weakness in these patients is due to pathology at both the neuromuscular junction (most likely due to ND‐NMBA) and muscle (most likely due to corticosteroids). Hepatic dysfunction and acidosis are contributing risk factors. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-654
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle & Nerve
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1994


  • corticosteroids
  • myosin
  • neuromuscular blockade
  • nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking drug
  • paralysis
  • repetitive stimulation
  • thick filament
  • twitch tension
  • vecuronium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Prolonged paralysis due to nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents and corticosteroids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this