Succinylcholine adverse effects are not uncommon. Succinylcholine is a widely used drug in the operating room and intensive care units for intubation. It is considered a depolarizing muscle relaxant and thus causes fasciculations. It has a rapid onset (40-60 seconds) and is short-acting (10-15 minutes).
The adverse effect most classically associated with the use of succinylcholine (aka “sux”) is malignant hyperthermia. A partial list of other adverse effects is below:
1. hyperkalemia (increase in serum potassium by 0.5 meq/L) which is exaggerated in patients with burns, myopathies, crush injuries, and denervating injuries
2. arrhythmias – can be either bradycardia from the parasympathetic/muscarinic effect or tachycardia from the sympathetic/nicotinic effect
3. elevated intracranial pressure – use is contraindicated in traumatic brain injury
4. elevated intraocular pressure – use is contraindicated in glaucoma
5. elevated intragastric pressure