Commercially available bupivacaine is an equimolar mixture of R(+)-and S(-)-bupivacaine. S(-)-bupivacaine (levobupivacaine) is the subject of current clinical evaluation. We conducted partial cross-over systemic and regional pharmacokinetic studies of IV bupivacaine (12.5-200 mg) and levobupivacaine (6.25-200 mg) in ewes. Enantiospecific analysis of blood drug concentration-time data and of regional myocardial and brain drug mass balance data indicated that (a) there was a higher mean total body clearance of R(+)-bupivacaine than of S(-)-bupivacaine (as previously reported); (b) there were no differences in the systemic pharmacokinetics of S(-)-bupivacaine whether administered alone or as a component of bupivacaine; (c) there was no evidence of dose-dependent pharmacokinetics with either enantiomer; (d) for both enantiomers, mean calculated myocardial tissue concentrations of 1%-4% dose occurred between 3 and 5 min. Mean brain concentrations of 0.2%-1% dose occurred between 2 and 4 min after the administration of bupivacaine but between 4 and 5 min after the administration of levobupivacaine. There was no evidence that systemic toxicity induced by these local anesthetics significantly modified their pharmacokinetics, and there was no evidence of an enantiomer-enantiomer pharmacokinetic interaction for bupivacaine. Implications: Levobupivacaine comprises 50% of commercially available bupivacaine and is being considered for use in its own right. As a part of its preclinical evaluation, this study considered whether levobupivacaine behaved kinetically in the body in the same way as when administered as a component of bupivacaine.
(Anesth Analg 1998;86:805-11)