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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jul 16;(7):CD009642. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009642.pub2.

Continuous intravenous perioperative lidocaine infusion for postoperative pain and recovery.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, University of Würzburg, Oberdürrbacher Str. 6, Würzburg, Germany, 97080.



The management of postoperative pain and recovery is still unsatisfactory in clinical practice. Opioids used for postoperative analgesia are frequently associated with adverse effects including nausea and constipation. These adverse effects prevent smooth postoperative recovery. On the other hand not all patients may be suited to, and take benefit from, epidural analgesia used to enhance postoperative recovery. The non-opioid lidocaine was investigated in several studies for its use in multi-modal management strategies to reduce postoperative pain and enhance recovery.


The aim of this review was to assess the effects (benefits and risks) of perioperative intravenous lidocaine infusion compared to placebo/no treatment or compared to epidural analgesia on postoperative pain and recovery in adults undergoing various surgical procedures.


We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, Issue 5 2014), MEDLINE (January 1966 to May 2014), EMBASE (1980 to May 2014), CINAHL (1982 to May 2014), and reference lists of articles. We searched the trial registry database, contacted researchers in the field, and handsearched journals and congress proceedings. We did not apply any language restrictions.


We included randomized controlled trials comparing the effect of continuous perioperative intravenous lidocaine infusion either with placebo, or no treatment, or with epidural analgesia in adults undergoing elective or urgent surgery under general anaesthesia. The intravenous lidocaine infusion must have been started intraoperatively prior to incision and continued at least until the end of surgery.


Trial quality was independently assessed by two authors according to the methodological procedures specified by the Cochrane Collaboration. Data were extracted by two independent authors. We collected trial data on postoperative pain, recovery of gastrointestinal function, length of hospital stay, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), opioid consumption, patient satisfaction, surgical complication rates, and adverse effects of the intervention.


We included 45 trials involving 2802 participants. Two trials compared intravenous lidocaine versus epidural analgesia. In all the remaining trials placebo or no treatment was used as a comparator. Trials involved participants undergoing open abdominal (12), laparoscopic abdominal (13), or various other surgical procedures (20).The risk of bias was low with respect to selection bias (random sequence generation), performance bias, attrition bias, and detection bias in more than 50% of the included studies. For allocation concealment and selective reporting the quality assessment yielded low risk of bias for only approximately 20% of the included studies.We found evidence of effect for intravenous lidocaine on the reduction of postoperative pain (visual analogue scale, 0 to 10 cm) compared to placebo or no treatment at 'early time points (one to four hours)' (mean difference (MD) -0.84 cm, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.10 to -0.59; low-quality evidence) and at 'intermediate time points (24 hours)' (MD -0.34 cm, 95% CI -0.57 to -0.11; low-quality evidence) after surgery. However, no evidence of effect was found for lidocaine to reduce pain at 'late time points (48 hours)' (MD -0.22 cm, 95% CI -0.47 to 0.03; low-quality evidence). Pain reduction was most obvious at 'early time points' in participants undergoing laparoscopic abdominal surgery (MD -1.14, 95% CI -1.51 to -0.78; low-quality evidence) and open abdominal surgery (MD -0.72, 95% CI -0.96 to -0.47; moderate-quality evidence). No evidence of effect was found for lidocaine to reduce pain in participants undergoing all other surgeries (MD -0.30, 95% CI -0.89 to 0.28; low-quality evidence). Quality of evidence is limited due to inconsistency and indirectness (small trial sizes).Evidence of effect was found for lidocaine on gastrointestinal recovery regarding the reduction of the time to first flatus (MD -5.49 hours, 95% CI -7.97 to -3.00; low-quality evidence), time to first bowel movement (MD -6.12 hours, 95% CI -7.36 to -4.89; low-quality evidence), and the risk of paralytic ileus (risk ratio (RR) 0.38, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.99; low-quality evidence). However, no evidence of effect was found for lidocaine on shortening the time to first defaecation (MD -9.52 hours, 95% CI -23.24 to 4.19; very low-quality evidence).Furthermore, we found evidence of positive effects for lidocaine administration on secondary outcomes such as reduction of length of hospital stay, postoperative nausea, intraoperative and postoperative opioid requirements. There was limited data on the effect of IV lidocaine on adverse effects (e.g. death, arrhythmias, other heart rate disorders or signs of lidocaine toxicity) compared to placebo treatment as only a limited number of studies systematically analysed the occurrence of adverse effects of the lidocaine intervention.The comparison of intravenous lidocaine versus epidural analgesia revealed no evidence of effect for lidocaine on relevant outcomes. However, the results have to be considered with caution due to imprecision of the effect estimates.


There is low to moderate evidence that this intervention, when compared to placebo, has an impact on pain scores, especially in the early postoperative phase, and on postoperative nausea. There is limited evidence that this has further impact on other relevant clinical outcomes, such as gastrointestinal recovery, length of hospital stay, and opioid requirements. So far there is a scarcity of studies that have systematically assessed the incidence of adverse effects; the optimal dose; timing (including the duration of the administration); and the effects when compared with epidural anaesthesia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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