Neuromuscular, electrocardiographic and autonomic nervous changes were studied when edrophonium and four combinations of edrophonium and atropine were used to antagonise vecuronium-induced neuromuscular blockade in 87 dogs anaesthetised with halothane. Edrophonium (500 micrograms/kg body-weight) was given alone, or with atropine (40 micrograms/kg) or one minute after a dose of 600 micrograms of atropine, and a lower dose of edrophonium (250 micrograms/kg) was used with high (40 micrograms/kg) and low (20 micrograms/kg) doses of atropine. The neuromuscular blockade was antagonised when some recovery was present. The reversal was rapid and complete in 75 cases, but the remaining 12 dogs which received the low dose of edrophonium required a second injection. Trials with the high dose of edrophonium alone were discontinued because cardiac arrest occurred in one dog and bronchosecretion with profuse salivation in another. The heart rate increased with the low dose of edrophonium and the high dose of atropine, and increased and then decreased when edrophonium was followed by 600 micrograms of atropine. The heart rate was stable when the high and low doses of atropine and edrophonium were matched. All the treatments caused atrioventricular blockade. Non-cardiac autonomic changes (salivation and bronchosecretion) occurred in only two of the 87 dogs.
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