UMEM Educational Pearls

A Cochrane review of 37 studies concluded that Succinylcholine (SUC) is superior to Rocuronium (ROC) during rapid sequence intubation.

The authors claim that compared to ROC, SUC has a faster onset of action (45 vs. 60 seconds) and overall a shorter duration of action (10 vs. 60 minutes).

Dr. Reuben Strayer wrote a letter to the journal editors and stated that these findings should be interpreted carefully; he highlighted that most of the studies in the review used doses of ROC less than 0.9 mg/kg (most studies used 0.6mg/kg).

Dr. Strayer asserted that ROC’s onset of action is dose dependent; when using doses of 1.2 mg/kg, ROC’s onset is indistinguishable from that of SUC. He also stated another major benefit of ROC is the lack of adverse effects that SUC possesses (hyperkalemia and malignant hyperthermia).

What are your thoughts on this? Go to and take the poll (there are 5 choices). Results will be posted next week.


Seupaul RA, Jones JH. Evidence-based emergency medicine. Does succinylcholine maximize intubating conditions better than rocuronium for rapid sequence intubation? Ann Emerg Med. 2011 Mar;57(3):301-2. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Strayer RJ. Rocuronium versus succinylcholine: Cochrane synopsis reconsidered. Ann Emerg Med. 2011 Aug;58(2):217-8.

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