Toxicity Due to Local Anesthetic Agents: Literature Review

  • Rafael Enrico Valencia Gómez Médico, Residente II Ano de Anestesiología, Hospital Militar Central, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Hans Fred Garcia Araque Médico y Anestesiólogo. Coordinador del Posgrado en Anestesiología, Universidad Militar Central. Comité de Reanimación Sociedad Colombiana de Anestesiología y Reanimación. Coordinador servicio anestesiología, docente pregrado y posgrado U. Militar Nueva Granada, Hospital Militar Central, Bogotá, Colombia
Keywords: Anesthetics Local, Toxicity, Cardiotoxins, Neurotoxicity Syndromes, Fat Emulsions Intravenous


Local anesthetics (LA) are drugs widely used in the practice of anesthesia, with low incidence of adverse events; however, in case of toxicity, mortality is very high. Currently, the systemic toxicity rates have dropped from 0.2 % to 0.01 %, thanks to the use of preventive measures and to the development of safer drugs. In view of the high risk of latent mortality, studies in humans are not feasible and hence the available sources of information are extrapolated animal studies or case reports.

Severe LA toxicity manifestations occur mainly as a result of intravascular administration rather than due to tissue absorption; hence, bupivacaine is the LA that exhibits the highest risk. Clinically there are awareness disorders and tonic-clonic seizures followed by cardiovascular involvement resulting from conduction blocks and difficult to manage cardiovascular collapse.

With regards to management, prevention is the key, followed by an adequate anesthetic technique; rapid identification and diagnosis and early application of ACLS rescue measures. More recently, the concomitant use of 20 % lip-id emulsions has been supported by successful resuscitation case reports.


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How to Cite
Valencia Gómez RE, Garcia Araque HF. Toxicity Due to Local Anesthetic Agents: Literature Review. Colomb. J. Anesthesiol. [Internet]. 2011 Jan. 1 [cited 2024 Apr. 23];39(1):40-54. Available from:


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How to Cite
Valencia Gómez RE, Garcia Araque HF. Toxicity Due to Local Anesthetic Agents: Literature Review. Colomb. J. Anesthesiol. [Internet]. 2011 Jan. 1 [cited 2024 Apr. 23];39(1):40-54. Available from:
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