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The characteristics of facial nerve electromyography at various levels of neuromuscular blockade are unclear. Partial blockade is well known to facilitate anesthetic safety and management. However, the use of neuromuscular blockage in many skull base procedures is avoided to allow intraoperative facial nerve monitoring.
We studied the influence of various levels of neuromuscular blockade on facial nerve stimulation in the New Zealand white rabbit. The facial nerve was exposed in the middle ear of six rabbits. Using electromyographic-type facial nerve monitor, we recorded the facial electromyography signals in these rabbits at increasing levels of vecuronium-induced neuromuscular blockade. All animals demonstrated reliable facial electromyography response at all levels of partial neuromuscular blockade (P < .02). Five of the six animals could be monitored throughout complete blockade. These results clearly demonstrate that rabbit facial electromyography monitoring is possible under neuromuscular blockade. The effect of neuromuscular blockers on facial electromyography monitoring deserves further study, as partial blockade would greatly facilitate the management of anesthesia in otologic, neurotologic, and skull base surgery.