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Alkalinization of Epidural 0.5% Bupivacaine for Cesarean Section
  1. Dan Benhamou, M.D.,
  2. Natacha Perrachon, M.D.,
  3. Thierry Labaille, M.D. and
  4. Laurence Bonhomme, B.S.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology and the Laboratory of Pharmacy and Toxicology, Université Paris-Sud, Hôpital Béclère, 92141 Clamart, France.


Controversial results have been published in the literature concerning the efficacy of alkalinization of solutions of local anesthetics to shorten the time to onset of sensory block. Fifty-two parturients scheduled for cesarean section at term under epidural anesthesia were randomly allocated to one of four groups: group 1, 0.5% plain bupivacaine (pH = 5.38 ± 0.05); group 2, 0.5% bupivacaine pH-adjusted with 1.4% sodium bicarbonate (pH = 6.87 ± 0.01); group 3, 0.5% bupivacaine with 1:200,000 epinephrine (pH = 4.80 ± 0.04); and group 4, 0.5% bupivacaine pH-adjusted with 1:200,000 epinephrine (pH = 6.68 ± 0.01). The time to onset of the sensory block was evaluated using a nerve stimulator technique. Motor blockade was assessed using Bromage's scale. No differences in the characteristics of the onset of the sensory block were observed with epinephrine-containing solutions nor with pH-adjusted local anesthetics. The maximal degree of motor blockade was not significantly different in the four groups. We conclude that alkalinization of a 0.5% bupivacaine solution is not an effective way to shorten the latency of epidural block for cesarean section.

  • Local anesthetics
  • bupivacaine
  • alkalinization
  • anesthetic technique
  • epidural
  • obstetric anesthesia

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