Background and Objectives Postoperative pain alters physiological functions and delays discharge. Perioperative local anesthetics are effective analgesics in the immediate 1- to 2-day postoperative period, but acute pain often lasts longer. The goal of this work was to develop a local anesthetic formulation adhering to an intraoperative implanted device that reduces pain for at least 3 days after surgery.
Methods Six groups, each with 8 rats, were studied. In a control group (group I), one 1.2-cm-long incision of the skin was followed by blunt dissection to separate the skin away from the underlying tissues and closing with 2 sutures. In 3 of the treatment groups, the same surgical procedure was used, with the subcutaneous space formed by the blunt dissection lined with a 1-cm square patch of hernia mesh coated with poly lactide co-glycolic acid microspheres containing approximately 17 mg of bupivacaine (group II), no drug (placebo; group III), or bupivacaine free-base powder (group IV). Uncoated mesh implants (group V) served as a secondary control. A standard bupivacaine solution (0.4 mL, 0.5%; 2-mg dose) was infiltrated subcutaneously 30 minutes before the surgery and served as a standard control (group VI). Mechanosensitivity of the skin was tested by the local subcutaneous muscle responses to cutaneous tactile stimulation by von Frey hairs with forces of 4 g (for allodynia) and 15 g (for hyperalgesia) preoperatively and for 7 postoperative days.
Results Control rats (group I) showed mechanohypersensitivity, indicative of postoperative allodynia and hyperalgesia, for all 7 postoperative days. Mechanohyperalgesia in rats that received mesh coated with bupivacaine-releasing microspheres (group II) was reduced during this period to 13% of control postoperative values (P < 0.001); mesh coated with bupivacaine base (group IV) reduced it by 50% (P = 0.034). The placebo mesh (group III) and uncoated mesh (group V) caused no significant reduction of mechanohypersensitivity, and bupivacaine solution infiltrated before the incision (group VI) reduced hypersensitivity for only approximately 2 hours, an overall insignificant effect.
Conclusions Bupivacaine slowly released for 72 hours from microspheres adsorbed to the hernia mesh significantly suppresses evoked postoperative hypersensitivity for at least 1 week and is more effective than a suspension of these microspheres or preoperative single-shot infiltration of bupivacaine.
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The authors declare no conflict of interest.