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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Long-lasting epidural sensory blockade by n-butyl p-aminobenzoate in the dog: neurotoxic or local anesthetic effect?

An aqueous suspension of n-butyl p-aminobenzoate (BAB), a highly lipid-soluble congener of benzocaine, was applied epidurally and around ulnar nerves in dogs. The suspension consisted of 10% BAB and 0.025% polysorbate in 0.9% NaCl. Sensory effects were tested by electrical stimulation. Three epidural injections were given, and the dogs were killed after 21 days. The increase in stimulation threshold was comparable to the effect of lidocaine in a concentration between 0.5% and 1%. Increased sensory threshold lasted for days, whereas no long-lasting motor effects were observed. Pathomorphologic changes were found primarily in the dorsal spinal nerve roots, although slight changes were also found in the ventral spinal roots. White matter degeneration was found only in the lumbar dorsal columns. This result suggested Wallerian degeneration in the dorsal spinal nerves and was at variance with recently published data on epidural BAB. No changes were observed in the ulnar nerves. The authors demonstrated that the pathomorphologic changes were induced by the BAB suspension and not by the suspending additive polysorbate 80. It was postulated that the suspension of BAB, which contains particles of a median size of 15 microns, was mainly confined to the dorsal epidural space where neurolytic changes in axons of the dorsal spinal nerve roots and dorsal columns are induced. This may explain the long-lasting sensory effects seen in intractable cancer pain patients after epidural BAB administration. More research is necessary to define the distribution of BAB in nervous tissue after its epidural administration and to better characterize toxicity, neurolytic effects, and regeneration of nervous tissue after BAB administrations.[1]


  1. Long-lasting epidural sensory blockade by n-butyl p-aminobenzoate in the dog: neurotoxic or local anesthetic effect? Korsten, H.H., Hellebrekers, L.J., Grouls, R.J., Ackerman, E.W., van Zundert, A.A., van Herpen, H., Gruys, E. Anesthesiology (1990) [Pubmed]
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