Dexamethasone Prolongs Local Analgesia after Subcutaneous Infiltration of Bupivacaine Microcapsules in Human Volunteers

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BackgroundThe addition of small amounts of dexamethasone to extended-release formulations of bupivacaine in microcapsules has been found to prolong local analgesia in experimental studies, but no clinical data are available.MethodsIn a double-blinded study, 12 healthy male volunteers were randomized to receive simultaneous subcutaneous injections of bupivacaine microcapsules with dexamethasone and bupivacaine microcapsules without dexamethasone in each calf. Local analgesia was assessed with a validated human pain model; main parameters evaluated were thermal, mechanical, and pain detection thresholds and suprathreshold responses to heat and mechanical stimulation. Measurements were performed every 2 h for the first 8 h and daily for the week after injection. Primary endpoints were evaluation of maximal analgesic effect, time of onset, and duration of analgesia. Summary measures (area under curve [AUC]) were considered best estimate of analgesia. Safety evaluations were performed daily for the first week and at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and 6 months after injection.ResultsThe addition of dexamethasone significantly prolonged local analgesia of bupivacaine microcapsules without influence on maximal analgesic effect. AUC in all thermal measurements and the sensory mechanical threshold were significantly increased between 1–7 days after drug injection in the group given dexamethasone compared with the group not given dexamethasone. No serious side effects were observed.ConclusionsAddition of small amounts of dexamethasone to bupivacaine incorporated in microcapsules prolonged local analgesia compared with microcapsules with plain bupivacaine after subcutaneous administration in humans.

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