Review Article| Volume 37, ISSUE 6, P1354-1371, June 01, 2015

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Evolving Role of Local Anesthetics in Managing Postsurgical Analgesia



      Opioid analgesics, the cornerstone of effective postsurgical pain management, may be associated with risk of opioid-related adverse drug events (ADEs) that may complicate the postsurgical experience. Perioperative multimodal analgesic regimens have the potential to improve postsurgical pain control and may permit use of lower analgesic doses and reduce the incidence of opioid-related ADEs. Utility of traditional local anesthetic formulations to provide analgesia over the entire postsurgical period is limited by their short duration of action. Liposome bupivacaine, a liposomal formulation of bupivacaine indicated for single-dose administration into the surgical site to produce postsurgical analgesia, was evaluated in multiple surgical models as part of multimodal analgesic regimens and was found in clinical trials to provide postsurgical analgesia for up to 72 hours. Here, we provide an overview of the available multimodal analgesic options and recent recommendations for optimal postsurgical pain management.


      A review of the literature was conducted, and results from recent clinical trials are included.


      The use of a multimodal analgesic regimen, including liposome bupivacaine, can extend the time to first postsurgical opioid use, may reduce postsurgical opioid consumption, and reduce hospital length of stay and costs compared with an opioid-only analgesic regimen.


      Use of multimodal analgesic regimens is a practical way to achieve good postsurgical analgesia while minimizing reliance on opioids and associated adverse events. Taken as a whole, evidence from the clinical studies of liposome bupivacaine suggests this local anesthetic formulation may be a useful component of multimodal analgesic regimens for managing postsurgical pain in select patients, with the potential to reduce opioid use and opioid-related ADEs in the postsurgical setting. As with bupivacaine, appropriate use of liposome bupivacaine to optimize clinical effects, economic implications, and patient tolerability will depend on appropriate patient selection, practitioner training, and institutional protocols. As a component of a multimodal analgesic regimen, liposome bupivacaine represents a new approach to extending the duration of postsurgical analgesia. Further studies across a range of surgical settings should help clarify the most appropriate roles for this prolonged-release formulation of bupivacaine.

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