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Vecuronium bromide, usually just referred to as vercuronium on the series, is a pharmaceutical used to paralyze muscles. It is often used during anesthesia as it makes intubation easier and prevents reflex muscle movement during surgery. It is also used for patients on a respirator for a similar purpose. It has largely displaced curare for these purposes. It comes in ampules containing either 4 milligrams or 10 milligrams of a powder which is dissolved in distilled water before being administered.
Vercuronium works by competing with the receptors that normally receive signals from other muscle cells to co-ordinate the contraction of muscles. As such, the muscles fail to contract even when those neurotransmitters are present. This effect is slightly enhanced when the patient is under the effect of several types of inhaled anesthetics. It also has the benefit of being short acting. A patient usually recovers from the drug within 60 minutes of the drug being administered.
Anesthetists using vercuronium must check that the patient is under anesthesia because although the vercuronium will prevent a patient from moving, it will not stop the patient from feeling pain.As such, in most cases, vercuronium is only administered after the inhaled anesthetic has taken effect.