Muscle relaxation in mechanically ventilated infants

Ann R. Stark, Rebecca Bascom, Ivan D. Frantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We evaluated the effect of muscle paralysis on gas exchange and incidence of pneumothorax in 35 severely ill infants on mechanical ventilation. Pancuronium (0.1 mg/kg) was given repeatedly until spontaneous respirations ceased in infants with inadequate gas exchange with FlO2>0.60, or peak inspiratory pressure >30 cm H2O, or who were breathing out of phase with the respirator. Of 27 infants who had an alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient >300 torr before paralysis, aaDO2 improved by >100 torr within one hour of paralysis in only two infants; it worsened in two infants within the same period. By six hours postparalysis, 12 of 27 infants had improved, five of whom had had a worsening aaDO2 before administration of pancuronium. Changes in oxygenation were unrelated to changes in arterial carbon dioxide tension in most infants. Peak transpulmonary pressures after paralysis were lower than during spontaneous breathing, and may explain the low incidence of pneumothorax (3 of 35) during paralysis. Since those who improved could not be distingusihed by birth weight, gestational age, or diagnosis, pancuronium might be worthy of trial in a mechanically ventilated infant with severe lung disease who is at risk for pneumothorax.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-443
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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