Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Anesth Analg. 2010 Feb 1;110(2):630-4. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3181c76a33. Epub 2009 Dec 2.

Serum ropivacaine concentrations and systemic local anesthetic toxicity in trauma patients receiving long-term continuous peripheral nerve block catheters.

Author information

Department of Surgery, Anesthesia and Operative Service, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.



Ropivacaine is a long-acting local anesthetic used frequently for peripheral nerve blocks and continuous peripheral nerve block catheters. Combat trauma patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center often receive continuous peripheral nerve block catheters as part of their pain regimen. These catheters remain in situ for several days to weeks. In this study, we evaluated the free ropivacaine drug levels over time in trauma patients by measuring the serum concentration of bound and unbound local anesthetic. The corresponding alpha(1)-acid glycoprotein concentration in patients with prolonged ropivacaine infusions was also measured.


Fifteen patients were enrolled in the study; 2 patients were excluded because only a single ropivacaine level was obtained. Of the remaining 13 patients in the study, 2 had peripheral nerve catheters placed at the time of enrollment; the remaining 11 patients had catheters placed before enrollment. These patients were already receiving 0.2% ropivacaine infusions for a period of 18-126 h before the first assessment of local anesthetic level. Catheters infused 0.2% ropivacaine at a rate of 6-14 mL/h; catheter boluses were administered with 0.5% ropivacaine. Local anesthetic blood concentrations were scheduled to be measured on Days 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 and every 3 days thereafter until all catheters were removed, although not all patients underwent each assessment. Specimens were assayed using high-performance liquid chromatography for total and free serum ropivacaine concentrations. Alpha(1)-acid glycoprotein was also measured.


Thirteen patients remained in the study, for a total of 59 blood samples. The median number of days catheters remained in situ for the duration of acute pain therapy was 7 days (range: 6-27 days). The median number of days catheters remained in situ after enrollment into the study was 7 days (range: 4-25 days). The median number of blood samples collected per patient was 4 (range: 2-10 samples). Two patients had isolated increased concentrations of free ropivacaine into a previously identified toxic range with no obvious mitigating factors; both patients had received a 300-mg bolus of 0.5% ropivacaine approximately 24 h before that blood collection. The median ropivacaine concentration over the length of the study was 0.11 mg/L (range: undetectable to 0.63 mg/L). During the first week of the study, the median change in ropivacaine concentration per patient was 0.00 mg/L (range: -0.35 to 0.47 mg/L).


Although 2 patients demonstrated isolated serum ropivacaine concentration spikes into a previously identified toxic range, continuous peripheral nerve block catheter management and local anesthetic doses as practiced at Walter Reed Army Medical Center did not result in clinically evident systemic ropivacaine toxicity. There was no correlation between free ropivacaine concentration and alpha(1)-acid glycoprotein concentration except in patients who had already been receiving ropivacaine infusions before entering the study. Despite this lack of correlation, the total duration of local anesthetic infusion did not seem to influence the free concentration of the drug.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center