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For decades local anesthetics have proven to be safe and effective drugs in the clinical practice, crucially promoting the enormous achievements in regional anesthesia. Meanwhile, it is a well-known fact that local anesthetics are much more than just "simple" sodium channel blockers. They also interact with numerous other ion channels and subcellular structures, enhancing nerve blockade and resulting in systemic "alternative" effects, which can sometimes even be clinically used. By the simultaneous administration of various adjuvants (e.g., opioids, corticosteroids and α2-receptor agonists) attempts are made to prolong the time of action of local anesthetics after a single administration in order to achieve the best possible improvement in postoperative analgesia. In this context, ultralong-acting local anesthetics, such as liposomal bupivacaine, which at least theoretically can provide a sensory nerve block for several days, have been developed and clinically introduced. The coming years will show whether these approaches will develop into genuine alternatives to the personnel and cost-intensive continuous nerve blockades.Local anesthetic-induced systemic toxicity is meanwhile rare but still a potentially life-threatening event, frequently resulting from accidental intravascular injection or extensive systemic resorption. Consequently, slow and fractional application of these agents with intermittent aspiration helps to prevent toxic sequelae. If toxic symptoms occur, however, the intravenous infusion of 20% lipid solutions in addition to basic treatment measures can enhance the success of treatment.


W Zink, T Steinfeldt, T Wiesmann. Stocktaking of local anesthetics 2020]. Der Anaesthesist. 2020 May;69(5):301-313

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PMID: 32076740

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