Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome during anesthesia: A report of 37 patients

Toby N. Weingarten, Cadmar N. Araka, Matthew E. Mogensen, Joseph P. Sorenson, Mary E. Marienau, James C. Watson, Juraj Sprung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Study Objective: Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is an autoimmune disorder of the neuromuscular junction that manifests with muscle weakness, autonomic and bulbar dysfunction, and increased sensitivity to neuromuscular blocking drugs. The objective of this study is to review perioperative outcomes on a series of patients with LEMS. Design: The medical records of surgical patients with LEMS from January 1, 1990, to December 31, 2012, were retrospectively reviewed. Setting: Major academic hospital. Patients: Surgical patients with LEMS. Measurements and Main Results: Thirty-seven patients underwent 60 surgeries, with most performed to diagnose or treat lung malignancy (n = 31; 51.7%). Equal number of patients had LEMS associated with small cell lung cancer (n = 16; 43.2%) or an autoimmune process (n = 16; 43.2%), with the remainder having various malignancies. Neuromuscular blocking drug medications were used in 23 (38.3%) of cases, including 8 patients who were not treated for LEMS symptoms. Four patients (11%) had respiratory complications. Interestingly, 3 patients were either undiagnosed or not treated for LEMS at the time of perioperative complication, and developed weakness after use of neuromuscular blocking drugs. Conclusion: Patients with LEMS have increased sensitivity to neuromuscular blocking drugs. The risk for the development of prolonged muscle weakness or postoperative respiratory failure after being exposed to neuromuscular blocking drugs is increased in patients with undiagnosed or untreated LEMS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-653
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Anesthesia
  • Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome
  • Peroperative complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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