Papers And Originals

Timing of Atropine and Neostigmine in the Reversal of Muscle Relaxants

Br Med J 1969; 1 doi: (Published 15 February 1969) Cite this as: Br Med J 1969;1:418

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  1. J. G. Hannington-Kiff


    The antimuscarinic effects of atropine were studied in 46 patients to whom neostigmine had been given after operation to reverse the action of a muscle relaxant. Neostigmine was given to alternate patients three minutes after, or together with, atropine, and the effects of the two procedures were compared by measuring the secretions which collected in the buccal and oropharyngeal cavities and observing the heart rate.

    It was found that the glands of the oral cavity were stimulated to a greater extent when neostigmine was given with atropine than after atropine. Any dose of atropine sufficient to inhibit peristaltic movements of the bowel is more than enough to block completely secretion by the salivary glands, and the appearance of some secretion in all cases after the administration of neostigmine suggests that the bowel was at liberty to react to the neostigmine in every case, but perhaps particularly so when atropine and neostigmine were given mixed. The integrity of an anastomosis of the bowel could be endangered by vigorous peristalsis in the early postoperative period.

    Electrocardiograms in about half the patients from each group confirmed earlier work that the muscarinic effects of neostigmine on the heart can be prevented by giving the atropine either before or together with the neostigmine.