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.