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Sugammadex has been used for more than ten years in Australia and New Zealand and has been implicated as an effective treatment, and in some cases a potential cause, of a critical incident. We aimed to identify and analyse critical incidents involving sugammadex reported to webAIRS, a de-identified voluntary online critical incident reporting system in Australia and New Zealand. We identified 116 incidents where the reporter implicated sugammadex as either a cause (23 cases) or a treatment (93 cases) during anaesthesia. There were 17 incidents suggestive of sugammadex anaphylaxis, although not all were confirmed by skin testing. There were six incidents when bradycardia was temporally related to sugammadex administration, although it was not possible to exclude other causes or contributory factors. There were nine incidents in which sugammadex was used to reverse aminosteroid-related neuromuscular blockade successfully in a 'can't intubate, can't oxygenate' (CICO) situation, and a further 67 incidents in which sugammadex was used to reverse aminosteroid neuromuscular blockade as part of the management of other critical incidents. While sugammadex was used during the management of 16 cases of anaphylaxis, there was no clear indication that this altered the course of the anaphylaxis in any of the cases. These reports indicate that sugammadex can be a potential trigger for anaphylaxis and that its use may be associated with the development of significant bradycardia. However, it is not possible to estimate or even speculate on the incidence of these sugammadex-related incidents on the basis of voluntary reporting to a database such as webAIRS. The reports also indicate that sugammadex has been used successfully to reverse residual or deep aminosteroid neuromuscular blockade in critical incident situations and to help rescue CICO scenarios. These findings provide further support for ensuring the ready availability of sugammadex wherever aminosteroid muscle relaxants are used.


Benjamin L Olesnicky, Rosie Trumper, Vanessa Chen, Martin D Culwick. The use of sugammadex in critical events in anaesthesia: A retrospective review of the webAIRS database. Anaesthesia and intensive care. 2022 May;50(3):220-226

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PMID: 35172631

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