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Influence of chronic phenytoin administration on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of vecuronium.

BACKGROUND: The duration of action of vecuronium is reduced in patients receiving phenytoin. In this study, the authors examined, simultaneously, the influence of phenytoin on both the pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of vecuronium. METHODS: This study was approved by the institutional review board of the University of California, San Francisco, and patients gave written informed consent. Twenty-two patients, 11 taking phenytoin and all scheduled to undergo prolonged neurosurgical procedures with general anesthesia, participated in the study. In 12 patients (6 phenytoin, 6 control), vecuronium was infused at 7.5 microg x kg(-1) x min(-1) until the first response (T1) of each train-of-four decreased by 50%; in the remaining 10 patients (5 phenytoin, 5 control), 200 microg/kg vecuronium was infused over 10 min. Arterial blood samples were drawn at intervals over the next 5-7 h. Plasma concentrations of vecuronium and 3-desacetylvecuronium were measured by capillary gas chromatography. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modeling was used to characterize the disposition of vecuronium and patient responses to it in the two groups. RESULTS: Clearance was typically increased by 138% (95% confidence interval, 93-183%) in patients taking phenytoin. The effect of vecuronium was well described using a sigmoid Emax model. The concentration of vecuronium giving 50% twitch depression was increased 124% (45-202%) in patients taking phenytoin. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic phenytoin therapy reduces the effect of vecuronium by mechanisms that include both increased vecuronium metabolism and reduced sensitivity of the patient to circulating concentrations of vecuronium.[1]


  1. Influence of chronic phenytoin administration on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of vecuronium. Wright, P.M., McCarthy, G., Szenohradszky, J., Sharma, M.L., Caldwell, J.E. Anesthesiology (2004) [Pubmed]
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