What is the Role of Sugammadex in the Emergency Department?

Skyler Lentz, Katelin M. Morrissette, Blake A. Porter, Kyle M. DeWitt, Alex Koyfman, Brit Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Sugammadex is a medication newly available to many emergency physicians. It effectively, and within minutes, reverses neuromuscular blockade in patients who have received rocuronium or vecuronium. The role of sugammadex for the reversal of neuromuscular blockade after rapid sequence intubation in the emergency department (ED) is evolving, and limited emergency medicine-specific literature exists. Objective: This narrative review evaluates the role of sugammadex for the reversal of neuromuscular blockade in the ED. Discussion: The basic pharmacology, duration of action, adverse effects, and important medication and disease interactions specific to sugammadex are well described. Case reports suggest sugammadex can reverse neuromuscular blockade to facilitate an urgent, neurologic examination by an emergency physician or consultant. Multiple case reports of failure to improve airway patency with the use of sugammadex, even when neuromuscular blockade is completely reversed, and concern for added difficulty of definitive airway management in a patient with spontaneous movement suggest that sugammadex should largely be omitted from failed or difficult airway management strategies. Instead, it is important to focus on the ability to oxygenate and ventilate, including progression to surgical airway or jet ventilation if needed. Conclusion: Sugammadex is an effective, rapid reversal agent for rocuronium and has the potential use to facilitate an urgent neurologic examination shortly after administration of rocuronium. Its routine inclusion in a failed or difficult emergency airway is not supported by available literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • airway management
  • neuromuscular blockade
  • rapid sequence intubation
  • rocuronium
  • sugammadex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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