Succinylcholine Chloride Injection, USP
Neuromuscular Blocking Agent
Pfizer Canada Inc.
17300 Trans-Canada Highway
Control Number: 205275
DATE OF REVISION:
June 23, 2017
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NAME OF DRUG
Succinylcholine Chloride Injection, USP
Neuromuscular Blocking Agent
ACTION AND CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY
Succinylcholine is an ultra short-acting, depolarizing-type, skeletal muscle relaxant. As does
acetylcholine, it combines with the cholinergic receptors of the motor end plate to produce depolarization.
This depolarization may be observed as fasciculations. Subsequent neuromuscular transmission is
inhibited so long as adequate concentration of succinylcholine remains at the receptor site. Onset of
flaccid paralysis is rapid (less than one minute after i.v. administration), and with single administration
lasts approximately 4 to 6 minutes.
Succinylcholine is rapidly hydrolysed by plasma cholinesterase to succinylmonocholine (which possesses
clinically insignificant depolarizing muscle relaxant properties) and then more slowly to succinic acid and
choline (see PRECAUTIONS). About 10% of the drug is excreted unchanged in the urine. The paralysis
following administration of succinylcholine chloride is progressive, initially involving consecutively the
levator muscles of the face, muscles of the glottis and finally the intercostals and the diaphragm and all
other skeletal muscles.
Succinylcholine has no direct action on the uterus or other smooth muscle structures. Because it is highly
ionized and has low fat solubility, it does not readily cross the placenta.
Tachyphylaxis occurs with repeated administration (see PRECAUTIONS).
Depending on the dose and duration of succinylcholine administration, the characteristic depolarizing
neuromuscular block (Phase I block) may change to a block with characteristics superficially resembling
a nondepolarizing block (Phase II block). This may be associated with prolonged respiratory muscle
paralysis or weakness in patients who manifest the transition to Phase II block. When this diagnosis is
confirmed by peripheral nerve stimulation, it may sometimes be reversed with anticholinesterase drugs
such as neostigmine (see PRECAUTIONS). Anticholinesterase drugs may not always be effective. If
given before succinylcholine is metabolized by cholinesterase, anticholinesterase drugs may prolong
rather than shorten paralysis.
Succinylcholine has no direct effect on the myocardium. Succinylcholine stimulates both autonomic
ganglia and muscarinic receptors which may cause changes in cardiac rhythm, predominantly bradycardia
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and occasional asystoles. Changes in rhythm including cardiac arrest, may also result from vagal
stimulation, which may occur during surgical procedures, or from hyperkalemia, particularly in children
(see PRECAUTIONS-Pediatric Use). These effects are enhanced by halogenated anesthetics.
Succinylcholine causes an increase in intraocular pressure immediately after its injection and during the
fasciculation phase, and causes slight increases which may persist after onset of complete paralysis
Succinylcholine may cause slight increases in intracranial pressure immediately after its injection and
during the fasciculation phase (see PRECAUTIONS).
As with other neuromuscular blocking agents, the potential for releasing histamine is present following
succinylcholine administration. Signs and symptoms of histamine-mediated release such as flushing,
hypotension and bronchoconstriction are, however, uncommon in normal clinical usage.
Succinylcholine has no effect on consciousness, pain threshold or cerebration. It should be used only with
adequate anesthesia (see WARNINGS).
The onset and duration of action of succinylcholine may be altered by dehydration and electrolyte
imbalance, and by the use of other medications such as depolarizing or non-depolarizing muscle
INDICATIONS AND CLINICAL USE
Succinylcholine chloride is indicated as an adjunct to general anesthesia, to facilitate tracheal intubation,
and to provide skeletal muscle relaxation during surgery or mechanical ventilation.
Succinylcholine is contraindicated in persons with personal or familial history of malignant hyperthermia,
skeletal muscle myopathies, and known hypersensitivity to the drug.
It is also contraindicated in patients after the acute phase of injury following major burns, multiple trauma,
extensive denervation of skeletal muscle, or upper motor neuron injury, unless clinical circumstances
require immediate securing of the airway, because succinylcholine administered to such individuals may
result in severe hyperkalemia which may result in cardiac arrest (see WARNINGS). The risk of
hyperkalemia in these patients increases over time and usually peaks at 7 to 10 days after the injury. The
risk is dependent on the extent and location of the injury. The precise time of onset and the duration of
the risk period are not known.
Acute rhabdomyolysis with hyperkalemia can occur when used in individuals with a skeletal muscle
myopathy such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy (see PRECAUTIONS-Pediatric Use).
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In infants and children, especially in boys under eight years of age, the rare possibility of inducing
life-threatening hyperkalemia in undiagnosed myopathies by the use of succinylcholine must be
balanced against the risk of alternative means of securing the airway.
Succinylcholine should be used only by those skilled in the management of artificial respiration and
only when facilities are instantly available for tracheal intubation and for providing adequate
ventilation of the patient, including the administration of oxygen under positive pressure and the
elimination of carbon dioxide. The clinician must be prepared to assist or control respiration.
To avoid distress to the patient, succinylcholine should not be administered before unconsciousness
has been induced. In emergency situations, however, it may be necessary to administer
succinylcholine before unconsciousness is induced.
Succinylcholine is metabolized by plasma cholinesterase and should be used with caution, if at all,
in patients known to be or suspected of being homozygous for the atypical plasma cholinesterase
Succinylcholine should be administered with GREAT CAUTION to patients suffering from
hyperkalemia because in these circumstances succinylcholine may induce serious cardiac arrhythmias or
cardiac arrest due to hyperkalemia.
GREAT CAUTION should be observed if succinylcholine is administered to patients during the acute
phase of injury following major burns, multiple trauma, extensive denervation of skeletal muscle, or
upper motor neuron injury (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). The risk of hyperkalemia in these patients
increases over time and usually peaks at 7 to 10 days after the injury. The risk is dependent on the extent
and location of the injury. The precise time of onset and the duration of the risk period are undetermined.
Patients with chronic abdominal infection, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or conditions causing degeneration
of central and peripheral nervous systems should receive succinylcholine with GREAT CAUTION
because of the potential for developing severe hyperkalemia.
Immediate treatment of hyperkalemia should include hyperventilation, i.v. calcium, i.v. sodium
bicarbonate and I.V. glucose (with or without insulin).
Succinylcholine administration has been associated with acute onset of malignant hyperthermia, a
potentially fatal hypermetabolic state of skeletal muscle. The risk of developing malignant hyperthermia
following succinylcholine administration increases with the concomitant administration of volatile
anesthetics. Malignant hyperthermia frequently presents as intractable spasm of the jaw muscles (masseter
spasm) which may progress to generalized rigidity, increased oxygen demand, tachycardia, tachypnea and
Successful outcome depends on recognition of early signs, such as jaw muscle spasm, increase of
end-tidal carbon dioxide concentrations, or generalized rigidity to initial administration of succinylcholine
for tracheal intubation, or failure of tachycardia to respond to deepening anesthesia. Skin mottling, rising
temperature and coagulopathies may occur later in the course of the hypermetabolic process. In short
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procedures, these symptoms and signs may not appear until the patient is in the recovery room.
Recognition of the syndrome is a signal for discontinuance of anesthesia, attention to increased oxygen
consumption, requirement for a marked increase in minute ventilation to correct respiratory acidosis,
supplementary i.v. bicarbonate to control metabolic acidosis, support of circulation, assurance of adequate
urinary output and institution of measures to control rising temperature. Dantrolene sodium, intravenously,
is recommended as an adjunct to supportive measures in the management of this problem. Consult
literature references and the dantrolene prescribing information for additional information about the
management of malignant hyperthermic crisis. Continuous monitoring of temperature and expired CO
recommended as an aid to early recognition of malignant hyperthermia.
In adults the incidence of bradycardia, which may progress to asystole, is greater after a second dose of
succinylcholine. In infants and young children, bradycardia and transient asystole may occur after one
dose of succinylcholine. The incidence and severity of bradycardia is greater in infants and children than
in adults. Pretreatment with anticholinergic agents (e.g. atropine), in most cases, will reduce the
occurrence of bradyarrhythmias.
Succinylcholine causes an increase in intraocular pressure. It should not be used in instances in which an
increase in intraocular pressure is undesirable (e.g. narrow angle glaucoma, penetrating eye injury) unless
the potential benefit of this use outweighs the potential risk.
Succinylcholine is acidic (pH = 3.5) and should not be mixed with alkaline solutions having a pH greater
than 8.5 (e.g. barbiturate solutions) (see PHARMACEUTICAL INFORMATION, Stability -
When succinylcholine is given over a prolonged period of time, the characteristic depolarization block of
the myoneural junction (Phase I block) may change to a block with characteristics superficially
resembling a nondepolarizing block (Phase II block). Prolonged respiratory muscle paralysis or weakness
may be observed in patients manifesting this transition to Phase II block.
The transition from Phase I to Phase II block has been reported in 7 of 7 patients studied under halothane
anesthesia after an accumulated dose of 2 to 4 mg/kg succinylcholine (administered in repeated, divided
doses). The onset of Phase II block coincided with the onset of tachyphylaxis and prolongation of
spontaneous recovery. In another study, using balanced anesthesia (N
succinylcholine infusion, the transition was less abrupt, with great individual variability in the dose of
succinylcholine required to produce Phase II block. Of 32 patients studied, 24 developed Phase II block.
Tachyphylaxis was not associated with the transition to Phase II block, and 50% of the patients who
developed Phase II block experienced prolonged recovery.
When Phase II block is suspected in cases of prolonged neuromuscular blockade, positive diagnosis
should be made by peripheral nerve stimulation, prior to administration of any anticholinesterase drug.
Reversal of Phase II block is a medical decision which must be made upon the basis of the individual
clinical pharmacology and the experience and judgment of the physician. The presence of Phase II block
is indicated by fade of responses to successive stimuli (preferably "train of four"). The use of an
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anticholinesterase drug to reverse Phase II block should be accompanied by appropriate doses of an
anticholinergic drug to prevent disturbances of cardiac rhythm. After adequate reversal of Phase II block
with an anticholinesterase agent, the patient should be continually observed for at least 1 hour for signs of
return of muscle relaxation. Reversal should not be attempted unless: (1) a peripheral nerve stimulator is
used to determine the presence of Phase II block (since anticholinesterase agents will potentiate
succinylcholine-induced Phase I block), and (2) spontaneous recovery of muscle twitch has been
observed for at least 20 minutes and has reached a plateau with further recovery proceeding slowly; this
delay is to ensure complete hydrolysis of succinylcholine by plasma cholinesterase prior to administration
of the anticholinesterase agent. Should the type of block be misdiagnosed, depolarization of the type
initially induced by succinylcholine (i.e. Phase I block), will be prolonged by an anticholinesterase agent.
Succinylcholine should be employed with caution in patients with fractures or muscle spasm because the
initial muscle fasciculations may cause additional trauma.
Succinylcholine may cause a transient increase in intracranial pressure; however, adequate anesthetic
induction prior to administration of succinylcholine will minimize this effect.
Succinylcholine may increase intragastric pressure, which could result in regurgitation and possible
aspiration of stomach contents.
Neuromuscular blockade may be prolonged in patients with hypokalemia or hypocalcemia.
The action of succinylcholine may be altered by some carcinomas or renal disease.
Reduced Plasma Cholinesterase Activity
Succinylcholine should be used carefully in patients with reduced plasma cholinesterase
(pseudocholinesterase) activity. The likelihood of prolonged neuromuscular block following
administration of succinylcholine must be considered in such patients (see DOSAGE AND
Plasma cholinesterase activity may be diminished in the presence of genetic abnormalities of plasma
cholinesterase (e.g. patients heterozygous or homozygous for atypical plasma cholinesterase gene),
pregnancy, severe liver or kidney disease, malignant tumors, infections, burns, anemia, decompensated
heart disease, peptic ulcer, or myxedema. Plasma cholinesterase activity may also be diminished by
chronic administration of oral contraceptives, glucocorticoids, or certain monoamine oxidase inhibitors
and by irreversible inhibitors of plasma cholinesterase, (e.g. organophosphate insecticides, echothiophate,
and certain antineoplastic drugs).
Patients homozygous for atypical plasma cholinesterase gene (1 in 2500 patients) are extremely sensitive
to the neuromuscular blocking effect of succinylcholine. In these patients, a 5 to 10 mg test dose of
succinylcholine may be administered, or neuromuscular blockade may be produced by the cautious
administration of a 1 mg/mL solution of succinylcholine by intravenous drip. Apnea or prolonged
muscle paralysis should be treated with controlled respiration.
Drugs which may enhance the neuromuscular blocking action of succinylcholine include: promazine,
oxytocin, aprotinin, certain non-penicillin antibiotics, quinidine, β-adrenergic blockers, procainamide,
lidocaine, trimethaphan, lithium carbonate, magnesium salts, quinine, chloroquine, diethylether,
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isoflurane, desflurane, metoclopramide and terbutaline. The presence of an inhalational anesthetic may
exacerbate the side effects of succinylcholine in infants and children (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).
The neuromuscular blocking effect of succinylcholine may be enhanced by drugs that reduce plasma
cholinesterase activity (e.g. chronically administered oral contraceptives, glucocorticoids, or certain
monoamine oxidase inhibitors) or by drugs that irreversibly inhibit plasma cholinesterase (see
Drugs which either inhibit plasma pseudocholinesterase (such as neostigmine) or compete with
succinylcholine for the enzyme (as does intravenous procaine) should not be given concurrently with
If other neuromuscular blocking agents are to be used during the same procedure, the possibility of a
synergistic or antagonistic effect should be considered.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
There have been no long-term studies performed in animals to evaluate carcinogenic potential.
Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with succinylcholine chloride. It is also not known
whether succinylcholine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect
reproduction capacity. Succinylcholine should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.
Plasma cholinesterase levels are decreased by approximately 24% during pregnancy and for several days
postpartum. Therefore, a higher proportion of patients may be expected to show increased sensitivity
(prolonged apnea) to succinylcholine when pregnant than when nonpregnant.
Labor and Delivery
Succinylcholine is commonly used to provide muscle relaxation during delivery by cesarean section.
While small amounts of succinylcholine are known to cross the placental barrier, under normal conditions
the quantity of drug that enters fetal circulation after a single dose of 1 mg/kg to the mother should not
endanger the fetus. However, since the amount of drug that crosses the placental barrier is dependent on
the concentration gradient between the maternal and fetal circulations, residual neuromuscular blockade
(apnea and flaccidity) may occur in the newborn after repeated high doses to, or in the presence of
atypical plasma cholinesterase in, the mother.
It is not known whether succinylcholine is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in
human milk, caution should be exercised following succinylcholine administration to a nursing woman.
There are rare reports of ventricular dysrhythmias, cardiac arrest and death secondary to acute
rhabdomyolysis with hyperkalemia in apparently healthy infants and children who receive
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succinylcholine (see WARNINGS). Several of these individuals were subsequently found to be
suffering from a myopathy such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy whose clinical signs were not
obvious. When a healthy appearing infant or child suddenly develops cardiac arrest soon after
administration of succinylcholine, immediate treatment of hyperkalemia should include hyperventilation,
i.v. calcium, i.v. sodium bicarbonate and i.v. glucose (with or without insulin). Treatment for acute
rhabdomyolysis, including a single dose of dantrolene, should also be considered.
Unlike in adults, the incidence of bradycardia in infants and young children is common after one dose of
succinylcholine. The incidence and severity of bradycardia is greater in infants and children than in adults.
Pre-treatment with anticholinergic agents (e.g. atropine), in most cases, will reduce the occurrence of
Adverse reactions to succinylcholine consist primarily of an extension of its pharmacological actions.
Succinylcholine causes profound muscle relaxation resulting in respiratory depression to the point of
apnea; this effect may be prolonged. Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis may occur in rare
instances. The following additional adverse reactions have been reported: cardiac arrest, malignant
hyperthermia, arrhythmias, bradycardia, tachycardia, hypertension, hypotension, hyperkalemia, prolonged
respiratory depression or apnea, increased intraocular pressure, muscle fasciculation, jaw rigidity,
postoperative muscle pain, rhabdomyolysis with possible myoglobinuric acute renal failure, excessive
salivation, and rash.
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT OF OVERDOSAGE
Overdosage with succinylcholine may result in neuromuscular block beyond the time needed for surgery
and anesthesia. This may be manifested by skeletal muscle weakness, decreased respiratory reserve, low
tidal volume, prolonged respiratory depression or apnea.
The primary treatment is maintenance of a patent airway and respiratory support until recovery of normal
respiration is assured. Depending on the dose and duration of succinylcholine administration, the
characteristic depolarizing neuromuscular block (Phase I) may change to a block with characteristics
superficially resembling a nondepolarizing block (Phase II) (see PRECAUTIONS).
The decision to use neostigmine to reverse a Phase II succinylcholine-induced block depends on the
judgment of the clinician in the individual case. Valuable information in regard to this decision will be
gained by monitoring neuromuscular function. If neostigmine is used, its administration should be
accompanied by appropriate doses of an anticholinergic agent such as atropine.
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DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
The dosage of succinylcholine should be individualized and should always be determined by the clinician
after careful assessment of the patient (see WARNINGS).
Parenteral drug products should be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to
administration whenever solution and container permit. Solutions which are not clear and colourless
should not be used.
For Short Surgical Procedures
The average dose required to produce neuromuscular blockade and to facilitate tracheal intubation is
0.6 mg/kg QUELICIN
(succinylcholine chloride Injection USP) given intravenously. The optimum
dose will vary among individuals and may be from 0.3 to 1.1 mg/kg for adults.
Following administration of doses in this range, neuromuscular blockade develops in about 1 minute;
maximum blockade may persist for about 2 minutes, after which recovery takes place within 4 to 6
minutes. However, very large doses may result in more prolonged blockade. A 5 to 10 mg test dose may
be used to determine the sensitivity of the patient and the individual recovery time (see
For Long Surgical Procedures
The dose of succinylcholine administered by infusion depends upon the duration of the surgical procedure
and the need for muscle relaxation. The average rate for an adult ranges between 2.5 and 4.3 mg per
Solutions containing from 1 to 2 mg per mL succinylcholine have commonly been used for continuous
infusion (see PHARMACEUTICAL INFORMATION, Stability-Compatibility). The more dilute
solution (1 mg per mL) is probably preferable from the standpoint of ease of control of the rate of
administration of the drug and, hence, of relaxation. This intravenous solution containing 1 mg per mL
may be administered at a rate of 0.5 mg (0.5 mL) to 10 mg (10 mL) per minute to obtain the required
amount of relaxation. The amount required per minute will depend upon the individual response as well
as the degree of relaxation required. Avoid overburdening the circulation with a large volume of fluid. It
is recommended that neuromuscular function be carefully monitored with a peripheral nerve stimulator
when using succinylcholine by infusion in order to avoid overdose, detect development of Phase II block,
follow its rate of recovery, and assess the effects of reversing agents (see PRECAUTIONS).
The intravenous dose of succinylcholine is 2 mg/kg for infants and small children; for older children and
adolescents the dose is 1 mg/kg (see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS-Pediatric Use).
Rarely, I.V. bolus administration of succinylcholine in infants and children may result in malignant
ventricular arrhythmias and cardiac arrest secondary to acute rhabdomyolysis with hyperkalemia. In such
situations, an underlying myopathy should be suspected.
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Intravenous bolus administration of succinylcholine in infants and young children may result in profound
bradycardia or, rarely, asystole. Unlike in adults, the incidence of bradycardia in infants and children is
greater after a single dose of succinylcholine. The occurrence of bradyarrhythmias, in most cases, will be
reduced by pretreatment with an anticholinergic drug (e.g. atropine) (see PRECAUTIONS-Pediatric
If necessary, succinylcholine may be given intramuscularly to infants, older children or adults when a suitable
vein is inaccessible. A dose of up to 3 or 4 mg/kg may be given, but not more than 150 mg total dose should
be administered by this route. The onset of effect of succinylcholine given intramuscularly is usually observed
in about 2 to 3 minutes.
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Succinylcholine chloride is a white, odorless, slightly bitter powder, that
is very soluble in water. It is unstable in alkaline solutions, but relatively
stable in acid solutions, depending upon the concentration of the solution
and the storage temperature.
Stability - Compatibility
Succinylcholine is acidic (pH=3.5) and should not be mixed with alkaline solutions having a pH greater than
8.5 (e.g., barbiturate solutions).
Succinylcholine is rapidly hydrolyzed, quickly loses potency, and may cause a precipitate to form when
mixed with alkaline solutions of other drugs. Preferably, succinylcholine should be separately injected and
should not be mixed in the same syringe nor administered simultaneously through the same needle with
solutions of short-acting barbiturates, such as Pentothal* (sodium thiopental) or other drugs which have an
Admixtures containing 1 to 2 mg per mL of succinylcholine may be prepared dy diluting succinylcholine with
a sterile solution, such as 5% Dextrose Injection, USP or 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP. Such
admixtures should be used within 24 hours after preparation. Aseptic techniques should be used to prepare the
diluted product. Admixtures of succinylcholine should be prepared for single patient use only. The unused
portion of the diluted succinylcholine should be discarded.
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All units must be kept refrigerated (2 to 8°C) to prevent loss of potency. These products are stable for up to
14 days at room temperature without significant loss of potency.
(succinylcholine chloride injection USP) is supplied as a sterile solution in ampoules and fliptop
vials as follows:
List 06629: each mL contains succinylcholine chloride 20 mg, methylparaben 1.8 mg, propylparaben 0.2 mg
as preservatives, sodium chloride for tonicity; it may contain sodium hydroxide and/or hydrochloric acid to
adjust the pH at approximately 4.
List 06970: each mL contains succinylcholine chloride 100 mg; it may contain sodium hydroxide and/or
hydrochloric acid to adjust the pH at approximately 4.
This solution must be diluted for intravenous use: any unused reconstituted portion should be discarded.
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