High Alert Medication: This medication bears a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm when it is used in error.


Trade Name(s)

  • Norcuron

Ther. Class.

neuromuscular blocking agents-nondepolarizing


  • Induction of skeletal muscle paralysis and facilitation of intubation after induction of anesthesia in surgical procedures.
  • Facilitation of compliance during mechanical ventilation.


Prevents neuromuscular transmission by blocking the effect of acetylcholine at the myoneural junction. Has no analgesic or anxiolytic properties

Therapeutic Effect(s):

Skeletal muscle paralysis.


Absorption: Following IV administration, absorption is essentially complete.

Distribution: Rapidly distributes in extracellular fluid; minimal penetration of the CNS.

Metabolism and Excretion: Some metabolism by the liver (20%), with conversion to at least one active metabolite; 35% excreted unchanged by the kidneys

Half-life: Infants: 65 min; Children: 41 min; Adults: 65–75 min (↓ near term in pregnant patients, ↑ in hepatic impairment).


IV1–3 min3–5 min30–40 min


Contraindicated in:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Hypersensitivity to bromides

Use Cautiously in:

  • Dehydration or electrolyte abnormalities (should be corrected)
  • Fractures or muscle spasm
  • Hyperthermia (↑ duration/intensity of paralysis)
  • Significant hepatic impairment
  • Shock
  • Extensive burns (may be more resistant to effects)
  • Low plasma pseudocholinesterase levels (may be seen in association with anemia, dehydration, cholinesterase inhibitors/insecticides, severe liver disease, pregnancy, or hereditary predisposition)
  • Obese patients
  • OB:  Lactation: Safety not established (use only if benefit outweighs potential risk to fetus)
  • Pedi:  Children <7 wk (safety and effectiveness not established)

Exercise Extreme Caution in:

Neuromuscular diseases such as myasthenia gravis (small test dose may be used to assess response).

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Derm: rash

Resp: bronchospasm

Misc: allergic reactions including ANAPHYLAXIS

* CAPITALS indicate life-threatening.
Underline indicate most frequent.




IV (Adults and Children  >10 yr): Intubation: 0.08–0.1 mg/kg (0.06–0.085 mg/kg if given after steady-state anesthesia achieved or 0.04–0.06 mg/kg after succinylcholine-assisted intubation and anesthesia; wait for disappearance of succinylcholine effects; or 0.05–0.06 mg/kg during balanced anesthesia);  Maintenance dose: 0.01–0.015 mg/kg 25–40 min after initial dose, then q 12–15 min as needed;  Continuous infusion: 0.8–1.2 mcg/kg/min.

IV (Children  1–10 yr): 0.1 mg/kg q 1 hr as needed.

IV (Infants 7 wk– 1 yr): 0.1 mg/kg q 1 hr as needed or as a continuous infusion of 1–1.5 mcg/kg/min.

Availability (generic available)

Powder for injection: 10 mg/vial, 20 mg/vial


  • Assess respiratory status continuously throughout therapy with vecuronium. Should be used only to facilitate intubation or in patients already intubated.
  • Neuromuscular response should be monitored with a peripheral nerve stimulator intraoperatively. Paralysis is initially selective and usually occurs sequentially in the following muscles: levator muscles of eyelids, muscles of mastication, limb muscles, abdominal muscles, muscles of the glottis, intercostal muscles, and the diaphragm. Recovery of muscle function usually occurs in reverse order.
  • Monitor ECG, heart rate, and BP throughout administration.
  • Observe for residual muscle weakness and respiratory distress during the recovery period.
  • Monitor infusion site frequently. If signs of tissue irritation or extravasation occur, discontinue and restart in another vein.
Toxicity and Overdose:

If overdose occurs, use peripheral nerve stimulator to determine the degree of neuromuscular blockade. Maintain airway patency and ventilation until recovery of normal respirations occurs.

  • Administration of anticholinesterase agents (neostigmine, pyridostigmine) may be used to antagonize the action of neuromuscular blocking agents once the patient has demonstrated some spontaneous recovery from neuromuscular block. Atropine is usually administered prior to or concurrently with anticholinesterase agents to counteract the muscarinic effects.
  • Administration of fluids and vasopressors may be necessary to treat severe hypotension or shock.


  • High Alert: Unplanned administration of a neuromuscular blocking agent instead of administration of the intended medication or administration of a neuromuscular blocking agent in the absence of ventilatory support has resulted in serious harm and death. Confusing similarities in packaging and insufficiently controlled access to these medications are often implicated in these medication errors.
  • Dose is titrated to patient response.

    • Vecuronium has  no  effect on consciousness or pain threshold. Adequate anesthesia/analgesia should  always  be used when vecuronium is used as an adjunct to surgical procedures or when painful procedures are performed. Benzodiazepines and/or analgesics should be administered concurrently when prolonged vecuronium therapy is used for ventilator patients, because patient is awake and able to feel all sensations.
    • If eyes remain open throughout prolonged administration, protect corneas with artificial tears.
    • Store in refrigerator.
    • Most neuromuscular blocking agents are incompatible with barbiturates and sodium bicarbonate. Do not admix.

IV Administration

  • IV Reconstitute with bacteriostatic water (may be provided by manufacturer), D5W, 0.9% NaCl, D5/0.9% NaCl, or LR injection. Solution reconstituted with bacteriostatic water is stable if refrigerated for 5 days. If other diluents are used, solution is stable for 24 hr if refrigerated. Discard all unused solution.
  • IV Push:   Concentration: Maximum of 2 mg/mL. Titrate dose according to patient response.
  • Continuous Infusion:   Dilution:  Dilute to a concentration of 1 mg/mL in D5W, 0.9% NaCl, or LR. Use sterile water for injection instead of manufacturer-provided diluent (contains benzyl alcohol) when reconstituting for use in neonates.
  • Rate: Titrate rate of infusion according to patient response.
  • Y-Site Compatibility:
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    • MORE...
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      • cisplatin
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      • morphine
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      • pentobarbital
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      • phenylephrine
      • potassium acetate
      • potassium chloride
      • potassium phosphates
      • procainamide
      • prochlorperazine
      • promethazine
      • propranolol
      • remifentanil
      • sodium acetate
      • sodium bicarbonate
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      • succinylcholine
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  • Y-Site Incompatibility:
    • acyclovir
    • allopurinol
    • MORE...
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      • amphotericin B lipid complex
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      • methohexital
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      • micafungin
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      • pantoprazole
      • pentamidine
      • phenytoin
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      • thiopental

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Explain all procedures to patient receiving vecuronium therapy without general anesthesia, because consciousness is not affected by vecuronium alone.
  • Reassure patient that communication abilities will return as medication wears off.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Adequate suppression of the twitch response when tested with peripheral nerve stimulation and subsequent muscle paralysis.
  • Improved compliance during mechanical ventilation.