A research links the use of muscle relaxants with the increase of postoperative pulmonary complications

Marina Soro, professor of the Surgical Department of the University of Valencia and researcher of the INCLIVA
Marina Soro, professor of the Surgical Department of the University of Valencia and researcher of the INCLIVA

A study of the INCLIVA Anesthesia Research Group, where the professor of the Department of Surgery of the University of Valencia has participated, Marina Soro associates the use of neuromuscular blocking agents with a higher incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications in patients undergoing general anaesthesia. The research, published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, has been funded by the European Society of Anaesthesiology.

Most of the anaesthesia processes include the application of muscle blockers to produce muscle paralysis with the aim of improving surgical conditions and reducing adverse events during the intervention. Now, the results of POPULAR (Postanesthesia PULmon and After Relaxation in Europe) contradict the previous expectation that the use of muscle relaxants can reduce respiratory complications after the operation, according to the research team.

In fact, the research relates a higher incidence of these complications in patients who did not have risk factors of suffering these difficulties before the operation. “The data we have obtained in the POPULAR study add to the evidence from previous studies that allow us to recommend that patients with a low risk of postoperative pulmonary complications should be anesthetised without the use of muscle blockers, whenever possible”, explains Marina Soro, also a researcher at the INCLIVA.

POPULAR has been carried out simultaneously in 211 hospitals in 28 European countries and has included data from 22,803 patients who received general anaesthesia for any in-hospital treatment, except cardiac surgery. During the two weeks prior to the intervention, data were collected on the characteristics of the patients and during the three days following, the patients underwent a physical examination to verify the appearance of adverse pulmonary events.



Kirmeier E et al.: «Post-anaesthesia pulmonary complications after use of muscle relaxants (POPULAR): a multicentre, prospective observational study». Lancet Respir Med. 2019

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(18)30294-77


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