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Cholestasis as a Side Effect of Bupivacaine?
  1. H. Wulf, M.D.,
  2. R. Leger, M.D.,
  3. M. Raetzell, M.D.,
  4. A. Olmer and
  5. U. Scheiderer, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Hospital of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
  1. Reprint requests: Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Hinnerk Wulf, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Hospital of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Schwanenweg 21, D 24105 Kiel, Germany.


Background and Objectives Cholestasis has been proposed as a side effect of interpleural bupivacaine. Therefore, the effects of various application techniques on liver enzymes were studied following ethics committee approval and informed patient consent.

Methods Patients following scheduled thoracotomy and laparoscopic cholecystectomy were prospectively studied and randomized to the following application techniques of bupivacaine:

Thoracic surgery T0: Control (systemic analgesia only: patient-controlled analgesia with opioids; n = 26); T1: Repetitive intercostal blocks (10-20 mL 0.5% bupivacaine, 2-4 times per day for 3-6 days; n = 17); T2: Interpleural injections via a catheter placed intraoperatively (20 mL 0.25%, 4-6 times per day for 3-6 days, right: n = 25 or left: n = 12).

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy Intraperitoneal application (single injection). L0: 50 mL saline (Control) (n = 21). L1: 50 mL 0.125% bupivacaine (n = 18); L2: 50 mL 0.25% (n = 20). The serum concentrations of bilirubin, γ-GT, alkaline phosphatase, leucine amino peptidase, glutamate oxalacetate transaminase, and glutamate pyruvate transaminase were measured preoperatively and on day 1, 3, and 7 postoperatively.

Results Neither application of plain bupivacaine was associated with significant changes in the postoperative concentration of hepatic enzymes. In particular, there was no difference between left- and right-sided interpleural application. Although increases in hepatic enzyme concentrations were observed in some patients postoperatively, this was similar in the bupivacaine and control groups.

Conclusion Perioperative interpleural, intercostal, and intraperitoneal administration of bupivacaine was not associated with findings indicative of cholestasis in the early postoperative course.

  • bupivacaine
  • interpleural
  • intercostal
  • intraperitoneal
  • cholestasis
  • jaundice.

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