Relationship between train-of-four ratio and first-twitch depression during neuromuscular blockade: A pharmacokinetic/dynamic explanation

  • Richard R. Bartkowski
  • Richard H. Epstein


Fade, as measured by train-of-four, lags behind twitch depression during the initial phase of nondepolarizing neuromuscular blockade, i.e., the ratio of the fourth to first twitch height in a train (T4/T1is greater at the onset of the block than during spontaneous recovery for the same level of first twitch depression. We believe that these data can be explained by picturing the muscle as having localized regions that respond much more slowly than the rest, leading to a delay in drug effect in that area, especially when the drug concentration rises rapidly as during bolus administration. This was modeled by computer as a muscle of 15 compartments distributed in a log-normal fashion according to equilibration rate. Experimental data consisting of the time course of first twitch and train-of-four ratio were fitted by nonlinear regression to the model. A good fit was obtained with a median equilibration time t1/2of 3.3 min and a standard deviation of 2.1. The difference between train-of-four during onset and regression of block at the same level of first twitch depression was reproduced.

Key words

neuromuscular relaxants pancuronium pharmacokinetics models computers train-of-four stimulation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard R. Bartkowski
    • 1
  • Richard H. Epstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology, Jefferson Medical CollegeThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia

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