Neuromuscular disease and anesthesia


Correspondence to: G.P. Joshi; e-mail:


Patients with neuromuscular disease pose many anesthetic challenges and are at greater risk for perioperative complications, including respiratory or cardiovascular dysfunction and pulmonary aspiration. Therefore, these patients require special precautions, including interdisciplinary communication between primary care physicians, neurologists, physiatrists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists. Preoperative evaluation and optimization of comorbid conditions is critical. These patients may have adverse response to neuromuscular blocking drugs and the reversal drugs (e.g., neostigmine). They should be used with caution and titrated based on objective neuromuscular monitoring. Drugs that potentiate neuromuscular blocking drugs should also be avoided or their doses limited if possible. The risk of malignant hyperthermia in certain neuromuscular diseases mandates avoidance of triggering agents such as succinylcholine and inhaled anesthetics. Patients with neuromuscular disease may also be sensitive to sedative-hypnotics and opioids, which should be used judiciously. Finally, the postoperative period requires close monitoring due to increased risk of postoperative cardiorespiratory dysfunction. Muscle Nerve 48: 451–460, 2013