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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Mar 2022 - 25 Mar 2022

2022 Mar

Pain Physician



A Comprehensive Review of the Use of Alpha 2 Agonists in Spinal Anesthetics.


Schwartz RH, Hernandez S, Noor N, Topfer J, Farrell K, Singh N, Sharma A, Varrassi G, Kaye AD
Pain Physician. 2022 Mar; 25(2):E193-E201.
PMID: 35322971.


Spinal Anesthesia was the first regional anesthetic technique to be performed. It was performed by Dr. August Bier, known for the Bier block, and his colleagues on August 16, 1898. Dr. Bier opted for, what he referred to at the time as "cocainization of the spinal cord" by introducing 15 mg of cocaine intrathecally prior to the operation. The surgery was largely uneventful and painless. The patient only experienced some vomiting and a headache postoperatively. Dr. Bier's use of neuraxial anesthesia aimed to directly inject local anesthetics in and around the central nervous system (CNS) for more direct control of pain and anesthesia. Local anesthetics were an important discovery in anesthesiology. However, since the advent of local anesthetics and spinal anesthesia as an alternative technique to general anesthesia, much has been learned about both the benefits and adverse effects of local anesthetics. It was quickly learned that use of local anesthetics would be limited by their potential for life-threatening toxic effects. For this reason, there was a push towards development of novel local anesthetics that had a larger therapeutic window with less likelihood of serious side effects. In addition to developing newer local anesthetics, the idea of adding adjuvants provided an opportunity to potentially limit the life-threatening events. These adjuvants would include medications such as epinephrine and alpha-2 agonists, such as clonidine and dexmedetomidine. Other adjuvants include opioids, glucocorticoids, and mineralocorticoids.