BACKGROUND: Residual neuromuscular block is associated with an increased risk of postoperative pulmonary complications in retrospective studies. The aim of our study was to investigate prospectively the incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications after reversal with either sugammadex (SUG) or neostigmine (NEO) in high-risk older patients.
METHODS: We randomly allocated 180 older patients with significant morbidity (ASA physical status 3) ≥75 yr old to reversal of rocuronium with either SUG or NEO. Adverse events in the recovery room and pulmonary complications (defined by a 5-point [0-4; 0=best to 4=worst] outcome score) on postoperative Days 1, 3, and 7 were compared between groups.
RESULTS: Data from 168 patients aged 80 (4) yr were analysed; SUG vs NEO resulted in a reduced probability (0.052 vs 0.122) of increased pulmonary outcome score (impaired outcome) on postoperative Day 7, but not on Days 1 and 3. More patients in the NEO group were diagnosed with radiographically confirmed pneumonia (9.6% vs 2.4%; P=0.046). The NEO group showed a non-significant trend towards longer hospital length of stay across all individual centres (combined 9 vs 7.5 days), with a significant difference in Malaysia (6 vs 4 days; P=0.011).
CONCLUSIONS: Reversal of rocuronium neuromuscular block with SUG resulted in a small, but possibly clinically relevant improvement in pulmonary outcome in a select cohort of high-risk older patients.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: ACTRN12614000108617.