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September 1980

Pancuronium and Abnormal Abdominal Roentgenograms

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics (Drs Dillard, Crowe, and Sumner) and Radiology (Drs Crowe and Sumner), Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(9):821-823. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130210005002

• Pancuronium bromide treatment in severely ill, mechanically ventilated infants has been shown to result in lower peak transpulmonary pressures, with an accompanying lower-than-expected incidence of pneumothorax. Infants treated with pancuronium often demonstrate an ominous abdominal roentgenographic finding: the "gasless abdomen." Of 38 mechanically ventilated infants, 22 of 24 pancuronium-treated infants (as compared with four of 14 untreated infants) had diminished or absent bowel gas. There was no significant difference between the two groups with regard to birth weight, mortality, or incidence of respiratory distress syndrome. Pancuronium prevents swallowing of air but does not inhibit gut peristalsis, thus accounting for the evacuation of abdominal gas three hours or more after administration of the drug. Clinicians who treat infants with pancuronium should be aware of the phenomenon, to avoid needless roentgenographic studies.

(Am J Dis Child 134:821-823, 1980)