Sugammadex binds progesterone with high affinity and may interfere with hormonal contraceptive effectiveness. The clinical, economical, and ethical implications of unintended pregnancy should prompt anesthesiologists to actively consider and manage this pharmacologic interaction. We surveyed anesthesiology providers at our institution about knowledge of this potential adverse drug interaction, how they manage it clinically, and the extent to which they involve patients in shared decision-making regarding choice of neuromuscular blocker antagonist.
A survey instrument was distributed to anesthesiology providers at a large, tertiary-care medical center. The survey explored prior experience using neostigmine and sugammadex, knowledge about potential sugammadex interference with hormonal contraception, pre-/postoperative counseling practices, clinical management, and shared decision-making regarding potential use of neostigmine in lieu of sugammadex to avoid this drug-drug interaction.
Of 259 surveys distributed, 155 were fully completed, and 10 were partially completed. Overall response rate was 60% (residents 85%, student nurse anesthetists 53%, certified registered nurse anesthetists 58%, attendings 48%). All but 1 respondent recognized the potential for sugammadex interference with oral hormonal contraception. Far fewer accurately identified potential interference with hormonal intrauterine devices (44%) and hormonal contraceptive implants (55%). The manufacturer’s recommended 7-day duration of alternative contraception was correctly identified by 72% of respondents; others (22%) reported longer durations (range 10–30 days). Most (78% overall) agreed/strongly agreed that potential interference with contraceptive effectiveness should be discussed with patients preoperatively. Despite the majority (86% overall) that endorsed shared decision-making and inviting patient input regarding choice between sugammadex and neostigmine, many respondents reported “rarely/never” having discussed this drug interaction with patients in actual clinical practice, either preoperatively (67%) or postoperatively (80%). Furthermore, most respondents (79%) reported “rarely/never” administering neostigmine to intentionally avoid this drug interaction.
Two years after designating sugammadex as antagonist of choice, physician and nurse anesthesia providers reported seldom inquiring about contraceptive use among women of childbearing potential and rarely discussing potential risk of contraceptive failure from sugammadex exposure. Most lack accurate knowledge of sugammadex interference with hormonal intrauterine and subcutaneous contraceptive devices. Although most endorse preoperative counseling and support patient autonomy or shared decision-making regarding choice of reversal agent, the same respondents report rarely, if ever, actualizing these positions in clinical practice. These conflicting findings highlight the need for education regarding residual neuromuscular block versus adverse drug interactions, collaboration among providers involved in patient counseling, and intentional mindfulness of reproductive justice when caring for women of childbearing potential.