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September 14, 1970

Succinylcholine-Induced Hyperkalemia in Neuromuscular Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Anesthesia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1970;213(11):1867-1871. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170370051009

The dangerously high levels of plasma potassium known to follow succinylcholine chloride administration in patients with burns or trauma have also been noted in patients with paraplegia or hemiplegia, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis. Of 40 patients with these neuromuscular diseases, 15 had increases in potassium levels between 1 and 6 mEq/liter after receiving succinylcholine chloride, 1 mg/kg of body weight. Most increases over 1 mEq/liter occurred in those patients who had been ill for less than six months or, if longer, who had disease of a progressive nature. The degree and extent of muscle paralysis seemed directly correlated with relaxant-induced hyperkalemia.