Neuromuscular blockade (NMB) is a critical part of many surgical procedures. Data on practice patterns of NMB agents (NMBAs) and NMB reversal in recent years in the US ambulatory surgical care setting are limited.
This retrospective analysis of US adult outpatients was conducted using the Premier Healthcare Database. We describe anesthesia practice trends in NMB management and assess the association of patient, procedural, and site characteristics with NMB reversal approach using multivariable logistic regression.
Approximately 5.2 million outpatient surgical encounters involving NMB and 4.6 million involving rocuronium or vecuronium between January 2014 and June 2019 were included. Following the introduction of sugammadex to US clinical practice (~2016), there was an increased use of rocuronium or vecuronium and a decrease in succinylcholine alone. Before 2016, NMB was pharmacologically reversed with neostigmine in approximately two-thirds of outpatient encounters. Over time, active reversal increased; by 2019, 42.3% and 36.0% of encounters were reversed by neostigmine and sugammadex, respectively, with 21.7% undergoing spontaneous recovery. Choice of NMBA (rocuronium or vecuronium alone), time since 2016, obesity, peripheral vascular disease, and procedures on the digestive, ocular, and female genital systems (vs musculoskeletal procedures) were independently and positively associated with pharmacologic reversal (versus spontaneous reversal). Conversely, advanced age; Western geography; and cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic/lymphatic, respiratory, and ear, nose, and throat procedures were independently and negatively associated with pharmacologic reversal of NMB.
Among pharmacologic reversals, time since 2016 was positively and independently associated with sugammadex compared with neostigmine (odds ratios [ORs], ranged from 1.8 in 2017 to 3.2, P < .0001 in 2019). Those administered rocuronium or vecuronium without succinylcholine, with increased age and history of certain comorbidities, and those undergoing ocular or respiratory procedures (compared with musculoskeletal) were positively associated with reversal with sugammadex and endocrine procedure negatively and independently associated with reversal with sugammadex. There was variability in the association of several factors with NMB reversal choices by geographic region, particularly in patients’ race, ethnicity, and size of affiliated hospital.
Overall, active pharmacological reversal of NMB increased in US adult outpatients following the introduction of sugammadex, although there remains significant practice variability. The multifactorial relationship between patient-, procedural-, and environmental-level characteristics and NMB management is rapidly evolving. Additional research on how these anesthesia practice patterns may be impacted by the shift to the ambulatory care setting and how they may impact patient outcomes and health disparities is warranted.
- Questions: What are the trends in neuromuscular blockade (NMB) agent utilization and NMB reversal options in US adult outpatient surgical settings in recent years and which factors are most closely associated with NMB reversal decisions?
- Findings: Use of pharmacologic reversal of NMB increased compared with spontaneous recovery following the market availability of sugammadex in 2016, and reversal choices were associated with institution, patient, and procedure characteristics.
- Meaning: The decision to use pharmacological reversal and the choice of reversal agent is associated with a complex set of patient-, anesthesia provider-, regional-, and facility-level characteristics.