January 9, 2020

Background: Rapid sequence intubation (RSI) is the most widely utilized approach for patients requiring emergency tracheal intubation.  RSI typically requires the use of a induction agent followed by the use of a neuromuscular blocking agent (NMBA) to improve the overall intubation conditions and therefore improve first-attempt intubation success rate. Historically, succinylcholine has been the preferred NMBA, due to its fast onset (45 – 60 seconds) and fast offset (6 – 8 minutes of paralysis). Recent studies, however, show that rocuronium is an effective agent (similar timing of onset for ideal intubating conditions) as well.  When used at a dose of 1.2mg/kg, rocuronium has a similar onset time to succinylcholine of about 1 minute. Additionally, succinylcholine has several contraindications (see bottom of the post) while rocuronium has no contraindications (except for hypersensitivity) which has increased the debate about the paralytic agent of choice for RSI.

April 21, 2016

Background: Airway management is a critical part of the management of patients presenting with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Emergency Physicians (EPs) have no ability to change the primary injury once it has occurred and so our focus is on preventing secondary brain injury. Hypoxemia and hypercarbia are major contributors to morbidity and mortality and management must focus on preventing them. Patients with TBI and depressed mental status frequently require definitive airway management in order to avoid these secondary insults. Rapid sequence intubation (RSI) with serial administration of a neuromuscular blocking agent (NMBA) and an induction agent is common practice. The most commonly used NMBAs are the depolarizing agent succinylcholine and the non-depolarizing agent rocuronium. There are strong proponents arguing for the dominance of one agent over the other based on qualities of the drugs but scant data investigating the question has led to clinical equipoise.