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Paediatr Anaesth. 2012 Feb;22(2):124-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2011.03688.x. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Resuscitation strategies from bupivacaine-induced cardiac arrest.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University Children's Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



Local anesthetic (LA) intoxication with cardiovascular arrest is a potential fatal complication of regional anesthesia. Lipid resuscitation has been recommended for the treatment of LA-induced cardiac arrest. Aim of the study was to compare four different rescue regimens using epinephrine and/or lipid emulsion and vasopressin to treat cardiac arrest caused by bupivacaine intoxication.


Twenty-eight piglets were randomized into four groups (4 × 7), anesthetized with sevoflurane, intubated, and ventilated. Bupivacaine was infused with a syringe driver via central venous catheter at a rate of 1 mg·kg(-1)·min(-1) until circulatory arrest. Bupivacaine infusion and sevoflurane were then stopped, chest compression was started, and the pigs were ventilated with 100% oxygen. After 1 min, epinephrine 10 μg·kg(-1) (group 1), Intralipid(®) 20% 4 ml·kg(-1) (group 2), epinephrine 10 μg·kg(-1) + Intralipid(®) 4 ml·kg(-1) (group 3) or 2 IU vasopressin + Intralipid(®) 4 ml·kg(-1) (group 4) were administered. Secondary epinephrine doses were given after 5 min if required.


Survival was 71%, 29%, 86%, and 57% in groups 1, 2, 3, and 4. Return of spontaneous circulation was regained only by initial administration of epinephrine alone or in combination with Intralipid(®). Piglets receiving the combination therapy survived without further epinephrine support. In contrast, in groups 2 and 4, return of spontaneous circulation was only achieved after secondary epinephrine rescue.


In cardiac arrest caused by bupivacaine intoxication, first-line rescue with epinephrine and epinephrine + Intralipid(®) was more effective with regard to survival than Intralipid(®) alone and vasopressin + Intralipid(®) in this pig model.

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