Nanoscale Bupivacaine Formulations To Enhance the Duration and Safety of Intravenous Regional Anesthesia

Intravenous regional anesthesia (IVRA; Bier block) is commonly used to anesthetize an extremity for surgery. Limitations of the procedure include pain from the required tourniquet, the toxicity that can occur from systemic release of local anesthetics, and the lack of postoperative pain relief. We hypothesized that the nanoencapsulation of the local anesthetic would prolong local anesthesia and enhance safety. Here, we developed an ∼15 nm micellar bupivacaine formulation (M-Bup) and tested it in a rat tail vein IVRA model, in which active agents were restricted in the tail by a tourniquet for 15 min. After tourniquet removal, M-Bup provided local anesthesia for 4.5 h, which was two times longer than that from a larger dose of free bupivacaine. Approximately 100 nm liposomal bupivacaine (L-Bup) with the same drug dose as M-Bup did not cause anesthesia. Blood levels of bupivacaine after tourniquet removal were lower in animals receiving M-Bup than L-Bup or free bupivacaine, demonstrating enhanced safety. Tissue reaction to M-Bup was benign.