Neuromuscular blocking drugs are designed to bind to the nicotinic receptor at the neuromuscular junction. However, they also interact with other acetylcholine receptors in the body. Binding to these receptors causes adverse effects that vary with the specificity for the cholinergic receptor in question. Moreover, all neuromuscular blocking drugs may cause hypersensitivity reactions. Often the symptoms are mild and self-limiting but massive histamine release can cause systematic reactions with circulatory and respiratory symptoms and signs. At the end of anaesthesia, no residual effect of a neuromuscular blocking drug should be present. However, the huge variability in response to neuromuscular blocking drugs makes it impossible to predict which patient will suffer postoperative residual curarization. This article discusses the undesirable effects of the currently available neuromuscular blocking drugs including the definitions, diagnosis and causes of hypersensitivity reactions and postoperative residual curarisation.
Anaesthesia (oxford), 2009, Vol 64 Suppl 1, p. 10-21