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Anaesthesia. 1989 Jun;44(6):467-70.

Alkalinisation of bupivacaine for sciatic nerve blockade.

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Division of Anaesthesia, Western Infirmary, Glasgow.


This double-blind study investigates the effect of pH adjustment of bupivacaine 0.5% with adrenaline 1:200,000 on block latency, duration of analgesia and systemic absorption of local anaesthetic after sciatic nerve blockade. Twenty-four adult patients were randomly allocated into one of two groups: Group A (n = 12) received bupivacaine with adrenaline 1:200,000 (pH 3.9) 2 mg/kg, while Group B (n = 12) received alkalinised bupivacaine with adrenaline 1:200,000 (pH 6.4) 2 mg/kg. Increasing the pH of the local anaesthetic solution significantly reduced block latency from 25 minutes in Group A to 12.5 minutes in Group B (p less than 0.001) and prolonged the duration of useful analgesia from 14.1 hours to 18.3 hours (p less than 0.001). There was no significant difference in plasma bupivacaine levels between the two groups. The results indicate that alkalinisation of bupivacaine reduces time to onset and prolongs the duration of useful analgesia when used for sciatic nerve blockade, without significantly increasing systemic absorption.

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