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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 Dec 2021 - 17 Dec 2021

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Dec 14


Pharmacological and clinical implications of local anaesthetic mixtures: a narrative review.


Nestor CC, Ng C, Sepulveda P, Irwin MG
Anaesthesia. 2021 Dec 14.
PMID: 34904711.


Various techniques have been explored to prolong the duration and improve the efficacy of local anaesthetic nerve blocks. Some of these involve mixing local anaesthetics or adding adjuncts. We did a literature review of studies published between 01 May 2011 and 01 May 2021 that studied specific combinations of local anaesthetics and adjuncts. The rationale behind mixing long- and short-acting local anaesthetics to hasten onset and extend duration is flawed on pharmacokinetic principles. Most local anaesthetic adjuncts are not licensed for use in this manner and the consequences of untested admixtures and adjuncts range from making the solution ineffective to potential harm. Pharmaceutical compatibility needs to be established before administration. The compatibility of drugs from the same class cannot be inferred and each admixture requires individual review. Precipitation on mixing (steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and subsequent embolisation can lead to serious adverse events, although these are rare. The additive itself or its preservative can have neurotoxic (adrenaline, midazolam) and/or chondrotoxic properties (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The prolongation of block may occur at the expense of motor block quality (ketamine) or block onset (magnesium). Adverse effects for some adjuncts appear to be dose-dependent and recommendations concerning optimal dosing are lacking. An important confounding factor is whether studies used systemic administration of the adjunct as a control to accurately identify an additional benefit of perineural administration. The challenge of how best to prolong block duration while minimising adverse events remains a topic of interest with further research required.