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Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency Etiology and considerations Angela Hepler RN, BS Biology, SRNA Allegheny Valley Hospital School of Anesthesia.

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Presentation on theme: "Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency Etiology and considerations Angela Hepler RN, BS Biology, SRNA Allegheny Valley Hospital School of Anesthesia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency Etiology and considerations Angela Hepler RN, BS Biology, SRNA Allegheny Valley Hospital School of Anesthesia

2 Objectives 1. Review physiology, diagnosis, prevalence, and effects of pseudocholinesterase deficiency 2. Address the management implications and contraindications which result 3. Discuss alternative therapy choices

3 Case Study 64 year old male undergoing craniotomy listing Succinylcholine as an “allergy” The patient has a diagnosis of pseudocholinesterase deficiency, secondary to a muscle biopsy H&P reveals hypertension, CAD, and hyperlipidemia

4 Concerns Craniotomies often involve: Remifentanil, Propofol, and 0.5 MAC of volatile agent Succinylcholine for induction, no long term paralytics Antihypertensives on emergence, sometimes including Esmolol Succinylcholine is contraindicated, but can we still use Remifentanil and Esmolol?



7 A&P Review The Motor Neuron Body resides within the Grey Matter of the spinal chord Axon terminates within the target muscle Myofibrils Endplate Neuromuscular Synapse Propagation of the impulse: Releases Acetylcholine (Ach) into the synaptic cleft Engages Nicotinic m receptors on the distal neuron Depolarizes and contracts the innervated muscle



10 Motor end plate Tb Motor neuron


12 Succinylcholine First used in 1951 Chemically similar to 2 Acetylcholine (Ach) molecules Depolarizing neuromuscular blockade A competitive antagonist of Ach Short term paralysis, limited by pseudocholinesterase metabolism

13 Acetylcholine and Succinylcholine AcetylcholineSuccinylcholine


15 Indications for Succinylcholine Rapid Sequence Induction (RSI) Electroshock Therapy (ECT) Motor evoked potential (MEP) monitoring Any situation where brief paralysis is desirable

16 Pseudocholinesterase Also known as: Acetylcholine Acyl Hydrolase Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) Primary metabolic pathway for Succinylcholine Located on Chromosome 3

17 H

18 ,

19 Pseudocholinesterase Present in all tissues except RBCs Represents 0.01% of total body protein Results in Ester hydrolysis of: Succinylcholine, Mivacurium, Ester LA, Heroin, and Cocaine Unknown physiological use

20 Pseudocholinesterase Normal levels range from 3,000- 6,600 IU/L Lab testing is available for direct quantification Reportedly ≥ 80% of patients presenting with symptoms will have atypical pseudocholinesterase present

21 Pseudocholinesterase inhibitors Onset of symptoms usually occurs when 75% suppression of the wild type is present Can occur with as little as 50% depression, depending on comorbidities and coexisting conditions

22 Pseudocholinesterase inhibitors Each can decrease the effectiveness of normal BChE: Advancing Age Renal failure Malnutrition Hepatic failure Pregnancy


24 HELLP -Induced Deficiency Case study: Primigravida at 29 wk gestation, presented with abdominal pain Day 1-2: medically managed, tocolytics administered Day 3: Rapid elevation in LFT’s and deterioration, decision made  C-Section

25 Departure from “the norm”…..

26 HELLP-Induced Deficiency Case study (cont.): Plt count 125,000/µL- Spinal and Epidural deferred GETA, intraoperatively stable, no long term paralysis End of surgery: No response to TOF stimulus  ICU, extubated 3 hours post section Pseudocholinesterase levels ~ 2,200 IU/L Spontaneous return to normal levels as LFT’s returned to baseline on POD 16

27 Other Cholinesterase inhibitors Organophosphates- permanent Carbamates – temporary (our reversal agents) Various medications: some antidepressants, antibiotics, and chemotherapeutics echothiophate, LAs, cocaine and heroin Malignancies Burns Cardiopulmonary Bypass

28 Comorbidities with multifaceted deficiency Case Study: 54 year old female 5’4”, 156 kg OSA Recent prolonged exposure to pesticides Presenting with Cellulitis of the Abdomen; for I&D


30 Comorbidities with multifaceted deficiency Case Study: No TOF response post Succinylcholine Remained intubated x 12 hours Post op Pseudocholinesterase level: 552 IU/L 6 months post: ~ 700 IU/L: Undiagnosed homozygous deficiency

31 Atypical Pseudocholinesterase Results from a mutation of the BCHE gene All atypical varieties are autosomal recessive: Heterozygous patients: minimal prolongation of paralysis Homozygous: variable paralysis, from 1-4 hours or more More prevalent among : Inuit / Native Alaskans Persian descendants/Jewish communities Specific Hindu populations

32 N dN d N- normal genetic coding (wild type allele) d- heterozygous, atypical BCHE (carrier) - homozygous, atypical BCHE N d NN Nd N NN NdNd NdNd dd The Genetics Of It All

33 Pseudocholinesterase Variants Up to 98% of individuals are homozygous for normal pseudocholinesterase 4 major varieties, with 65 variants known


35 Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency types 1. K variant Minimal effects alone, but often present in conjunction with other variants Slight prolongation of apnea Most prevalent variant (1.5% population)

36 Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency types 2. Dibucaine resistant/ Atypical First subtype identified Paralysis can last up to 2 hours Affects %

37 Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency types Dibucaine Number A qualitative test of enzyme activity Dibucaine (Nupercaine) attenuates normal enzyme action, but the atypical type is unaffected Normal: 80 (80% attenuation of BChE) Heterozygous: (reduced attenuation) Homozygous: 20 or less (only slight attenuation noted)

38 Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency types (cont.) 3. Silent variant o Homozygous results in complete lack of pseudocholinesterase o All metabolism by alternative methods o Relatively rare ( %) o Paralysis can last 3-4 hours

39 Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency types (cont.) 4. Fluoride resistant Very rare (0.0007%) Effects similar to Dibucaine resistant variant Fluoride number Quantitative test, similar to Dibucaine number test Normal Fluoride number: 55-65

40 Treatment…….

41 Treatment Supportive measures for unanticipated prolonged paralysis Known Congenital deficiency: Avoid Succinylcholine with known congenital deficiency Avoid Tetracaine, Chloroprocaine, and Procaine (OB patients) Consider NDMR in patients with potential for attenuated pseudocholinesterase activity ALWAYS assess for return of muscle function (TOF) prior to NDMR following Succinylcholine administration

42 Alternative Therapies RSI and ECT- Consider low dose Rocuronium, Vecuronium or Cisatracurium MEP testing- consider Remifentanil for depressed respiratory effort (cough) and/or higher volatile agent concentrations Plant-derived recombinant pseudocholinesterase?

43 What about our Case Study?

44 Remifentanil- metabolized by nonspecific plasma esterases Esmolol- metabolized by RBC esterases  Both are unaffected by BChE deficiency

45 What about our Case Study? Our plan of care: Intubated with minimal Rocuronium dosage, with spontaneous recovery during positioning Baseline MEP’s then obtained Remifentanil, Propofol, and 0.5 MAC Nitroglycerin, Hydralazine, and Labetalol used on emergence Patient awake within 5-7 minutes of Remifentanil termination, fully responsive with no respiratory depression

46 Summary Pseudocholinesterase (BChE) deficiency can be: 1. Drug, environment, or comorbidity induced (affecting quality) 2. Congenital (affecting quantity of true BChE) Heterozygous carriers -slightly prolonged paralysis Homozygous silent type -most prolonged paralysis Alternative therapies include intermediate acting paralytics, volatile gases, and opioids

47 Questions?

48 References Soliday, Conley, Henker. “Pseudocholinesterase deficiency: A Comprehensive Review of Genetic, Acquired, and Drug Influences.” AANA Journal 2010: Vol. 78, No. 4, p html 06.html Manullang, J., and T. D. Egan. "Remifentanil's effect is not prolonged in a patient with pseudocholinesterase deficiency." Anesthesia and analgesia 89.2 (1999): 529. Niazi, Ahtsham, Irene E. Leonard, and Breda O'Kelly. "Prolonged neuromuscular blockade as a result of malnutrition-induced pseudocholinesterase deficiency." Journal of clinical anesthesia 16.1 (2004): Williams, Joseph, et al. "Pseudocholinesterase deficiency and electroconvulsive therapy." The journal of ECT 23.3 (2007): Lang, John B., Susan A. Kunsman, and Michael T. Hartman. "Acquired pseudocholinesterase deficiency." Current Anaesthesia & Critical Care 21.5 (2010):

49 References Lurati, A. R. "Organophosphate exposure with pseudocholinesterase deficiency." Workplace health & safety 61.6 (2013): Geyer, Brian C., et al. "Reversal of Succinylcholine Induced Apnea with an Organophosphate Scavenging Recombinant Butyrylcholinesterase." Plos one 8.3 (2013): e Bryson, E. O., et al. "Prolonged succinylcholine action during electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) after cytarabine, vincristine, and rituximab chemotherapy." The journal of ECT 27.1 (2011): e42. Sivak, Erica L., and Peter J. Davis. "Review of the efficacy and safety of remifentanil for the prevention and treatment of pain during and after procedures and surgery." Local and regional anesthesia 3 (2010): 35. Cerf, C., Mesguish, M. et al. “Screening patients with prolonged neuromuscular blockade after Succinylcholine and Mivacurium.” Anesthesia & Analgesia 2002; 94: Lurie, Samuel, Sadan, Oscar, et al. “Pseudocholinesterase deficiency asociated with HELLP syndrome”. American Journal of Perinatology, 2004; 21:

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