Prevalence of muscle relaxant sensitivity in a general population: implications for a preoperative screening


D. Vervloet Department of Chest Diseases, Hôpital Sainte Marguerite, 270, Boulevard de Sainte Marguerite 13009, Marseille, France.



Muscle relaxants (MR) are responsible for 59% of peroperative anaphylactic reactions. A major issue would be to determine whether a systematic preoperative screening in the general population should be recommended.


The purpose of the study was to evaluate the prevalence of muscle relaxant sensitivity in a sample of the general population and to assess the role of possible risk factors.


Two hundred and fifty-eight subjects, aged 20–40 years, visiting a health care centre for a check-up were evaluated. Protocol included a questionnaire (occupation, symptoms of atopy, previous surgery, history of drug allergy), skin-prick tests to four commercial muscle relaxants and measurement of specific IgE against quaternary ammonium ions. Atopy was evaluated by skin-prick tests to common inhalant allergens and by a Phadiatop test.


Of the study group, 9.3% had either a positive skin test to one or more muscle relaxant or a presence of specific IgE to quaternary ammonium ions. No risk factor was identified in the studied group.


Since the rate of MR sensitivity is much higher than the anticipated rate of peroperative reactions due to allergy, a systematic preoperative screening for MR allergy should not be recommended for adults in a general population.