Neuromuscular Blockers (Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders)
Neuromuscular blocking agents are a class of drugs primarily indicated for use as an adjunct to anesthesia. Neuromuscular blocking drugs relax skeletal muscles and induce paralysis.
Neuromuscular blockers are indicated for a wide variety of uses in a hospital setting, from surgery to trauma care. In surgery, they are used to prepare patients for intubation before being placed on a ventilator and to suppress the patient's spontaneous breathing once on a ventilator.
Neuromuscular blockers relax skeletal muscle tone by blocking transmission of key neurotransmitters through the neuron receptors at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). They are divided into two major categories, depolarizing and non-depolarizing neuromuscular blockers, corresponding to the manner in which they exert their therapeutic effect. Depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents mimic the effects of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) and change the interaction between ACh and neuron receptors. Blockade occurs because membranes surrounding the neuromuscular junction become unresponsive to typical ACh-receptor interaction. Non-depolarizing neuromuscular blockers bind to receptors to prevent transmission of impulses through ACh neurotransmitters.
(The entire section is 1062 words.)
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