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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 315-316  

Anaesthesia for thymectomy: Use of ketamine-dexmedetomidine without muscle relaxant

Department of Paediatric Cardiac Anaesthesia, Apollo Children Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication25-Jul-2013

Correspondence Address:
Shapna Varma
D-73, No. 351/352, Konnur High Road, Ayanavaram, Chennai - 600 023, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.115590

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How to cite this article:
Varma S, Kalingarayar S. Anaesthesia for thymectomy: Use of ketamine-dexmedetomidine without muscle relaxant. Indian J Anaesth 2013;57:315-6

How to cite this URL:
Varma S, Kalingarayar S. Anaesthesia for thymectomy: Use of ketamine-dexmedetomidine without muscle relaxant. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Feb 25];57:315-6. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2013/57/3/315/115590


Myasthenia gravis poses challenges to Anaesthesiologists due to the involvement of neuromuscular junction (NMJ). The main concerns being the post-operative muscle weakness and limitations with the use of anaesthetic and neuromuscular blockers.

We present a case report of a successful management of a patient with myasthenia gravis for thymectomy with ketamine-dexmedetomidine for induction of anaesthesia and desflurane-dexmedetomidine infusion for maintenance and discuss the advantages of using a combination of these drugs.

A 13-year old boy, diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, treated with tablet (T.) pyridostigmine was scheduled for a trans-sternal thymectomy. Since his antibody levels were still high even with medical management a total plasmapheresis was done 12 h prior to surgery.

Pre-operative assessment revealed a possible difficult airway since his thyromental distance was short. Clinical examination revealed no other cardio-respiratory abnormality.

Pre-operatively, the boy was not pre-medicated and the usual dose of T. pyridostigmine was given. Anaesthesia was induced with injection (inj.) ketamine (2 mg/kg) and inj. Dexmedetomidine (1 mcg/kg) and inj. atropine (0.01 mg/kg) given slowly over 3 min followed by inj. midazolam (0.05 mg/kg). In anticipation of prolonged time required for a difficult intubation, anaesthesia was further deepened with oxygen and nitrous oxide and increasing concentrations of Sevoflurane. [1],[2] On entropy reaching 40, the trachea was intubated with appropriate size endotracheal tube (7.0 mm internal diameter) using a stillete and external laryngeal manipulation in a single attempt. Jaw relaxation was complete, laryngoscopy easy and there was no coughing or movement. Anaesthesia was maintained with desflurane 3%, fentanyl (single dose of 2 mcg/kg at incision) and dexmedetomidine infusion at 0.5 mcg/kg/h in oxygen/nitrousoxide (30:70). Hemodynamic and ventilatory parameters were satisfactory through out the procedure. After sternal closure, local anaesthesia with 0.25% bupivacaine was infiltrated around the wound and drain site and the inhaled anaesthetics and dexmedetomidine infusion were discontinued. The patient emerged from anaesthesia in 8 min. Trachea was extubated inside operation theatre. Post-operatively, he had no complaints of muscle weakness and was very calm and comfortable. Post-operative analgesia was given by intravenous infusion of inj. morphine (10 mcg/kg/h). He was restarted on T. pyridostigmine and his recovery was uneventful.

Two techniques have been recommended for general anaesthesia in myasthenia gravis. [1],[2] The non-muscle relaxant technique used deep inhalational anaesthesia or narcotics for intubation and maintenance, while the second balanced technique uses a judicious dose of neuromuscular blocker. We preferred the former to facilitate rapid recovery to spontaneous ventilation and prevent delayed recovery from neuro muscular blockers.

Dexmedetomidine-ketamine combination have been reported to have stable hemodynamic and ventilatory parameters facilitating airway manipulation. [3] Dexmedetomidin, an alpha 2 agonist, with sedative hypnotic properties and sympathoinhibitory activity is a good adjuvant in balancing the cardiostimulatory effects and the adverse central nervous system effects of ketamine. [4] The addition of atropine prevented any bradycardia or hypotension during intubation. We found the patient well anaesthetized, spontaneously ventilating and the laryngoscopy satisfactory with no movement during a difficult tracheal intubation inspite of sparing neuro muscular blockers.

Dexmedetomidine has an anaesthetic sparing effect [5] and an infusion of dexmedetomidine after a single fentanyl bolus dose along with desflurane appears to provide adequate relaxation for sternotomy and sternal retraction without the use of any muscle relaxant. Desflurane does not inhibit the NMJ transmission but acts on the spinal cord at a segmental level, both on corticospinal to alpha-motorneurons and interneuron synapses. [6] Desflurane is also ideal because of its rapid onset and fast elimination leading to rapid recovery with stable hemodynamics. In our patient, the combination provided adequate depth of anaesthesia for sternotomy and sternal retraction. Supplemental analgesia with local infiltration of the wound site at the end of the surgery also aids the rapid recovery.

Desflurane and dexmedetomidine infusion for maintenance of anaesthesia provides effective analgesia reducing the requirements of opioids and helps in rapid recovery from anaesthesia after surgery, with minimum impact at the NMJ.

We conclude that ketamine-dexmedetomidine induction with desflurane-dexmedetomidine maintenance without the use of muscle relaxants is highly suitable for patients with myasthenia gravis with respect to smooth induction, hemodynamic stability, effective analgesia and minimal post-operative muscle weakness.

   References Top

1.Abel M, Eisenkraft JB. Anesthetic implications of myasthenia gravis. Mt Sinai J Med 2002;69:31-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Politis GD, Tobias JD. Rapid sequence intubation without a neuromuscular blocking agent in a 14-year-old female patient with myasthenia gravis. Paediatr Anaesth 2007;17:285-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Scher CS, Gitlin MC. Dexmedetomidine and low-dose ketamine provide adequate sedation for awake fibreoptic intubation. Can J Anaesth 2003;50:607-10.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Levänen J, Mäkelä ML, Scheinin H. Dexmedetomidine premedication attenuates ketamine-induced cardiostimulatory effects and postanesthetic delirium. Anesthesiology 1995;82:1117-25.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Bajwa SJ, Kaur J, Singh A, Parmar S, Singh G, Kulshrestha A, et al. Attenuation of pressor response and dose sparing of opioids and anaesthetics with pre-operative dexmedetomidine. Indian J Anaesth 2012;56:123-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
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6.Péréon Y, Bernard JM, Nguyen The Tich S, Genet R, Petitfaux F, Guihéneuc P. The effects of desflurane on the nervous system: From spinal cord to muscles. Anesth Analg 1999;89:490-5.  Back to cited text no. 6


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