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

Does pregnancy alter the systemic toxicity of local anesthetics?

The toxicity of mepivacaine in chronically instrumented nonpregnant and pregnant sheep was evaluated, and compared with data from previous studies of the toxicity of other local anesthetics. Thirteen preparations were studied, seven nonpregnant (NP) and six pregnant (P). Mepivacaine 2 was infused at a constant rate into the femoral vein until toxic manifestations occurred, in the following sequence: convulsions, hypotension, respiratory arrest, and circulatory collapse. The doses and plasma concentrations of mepivacaine necessary to produce toxic symptoms were similar in NP and P animals, whereas, in a previous study, pregnancy enhanced the cardiotoxicity of bupivacaine. No malignant ventricular arrhythmias were observed throughout the study. Protein binding of mepivacaine was also determined in sera from nonpregnant and pregnant ewes and compared with that for bupivacaine. Serum protein binding of mepivacaine was not reduced in pregnancy at the drug concentrations associated with toxic symptoms; at circulatory collapse, it was approximately 22% in NP and P. In contrast, the proportion of bound bupivacaine was 73% in NP and 51% in P, a significant difference. These protein binding data suggest that, although lethal concentrations of bupivacaine, determined in the previous study, were higher in NP than in P animals, concentrations of free drug were similar. Thus, the difference between the two drugs may be related to gestational increases in the availability of free drug in the case of bupivacaine.[1]


  1. Does pregnancy alter the systemic toxicity of local anesthetics? Santos, A.C., Pedersen, H., Harmon, T.W., Morishima, H.O., Finster, M., Arthur, G.R., Covino, B.G. Anesthesiology (1989) [Pubmed]
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