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J Pediatr. 1993 May;122(5 Pt 2):S14-20.

Toxicity of local anesthetics in infants and children.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


Local anesthetics are extremely useful for providing anesthesia and analgesia for infants and children of all ages. Despite the toxicity issues raised here, the overall safety record of local anesthetic use in pediatrics has been very good, and local anesthetic administration within safe guidelines should be encouraged. In the great majority of cases, toxic reactions have been associated with either inadvertent intravascular injection or unintentional overdosage by physicians who did not adequately consider issues related to systemic drug uptake, distribution, or clearance. Unlike opioids, which can be titrated according to clinical signs to a wide range of doses, local anesthetic administration must be strictly limited "by the numbers." Pediatricians, surgeons, emergency room physicians, and anesthesiologists need to be informed regarding limits for the administration of local anesthetics and management of toxic reactions.

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