The Pharmacokinetics of Atomized Lidocaine Administered via the Trachea: A Randomized Trial

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Under emergent conditions, endotracheal drug administration may be an effective method of delivering emergency drugs. A common technique is to administer these drugs using a nonatomized spray. Atomized drug delivery may be an attractive alternative to nonatomized delivery because atomized particles are small, cover a large surface area, and may better adhere to endotracheal membrane resulting in more effective drug absorption. In this study, we compared the pharmacokinetic profile of lidocaine administered into the trachea using an atomized or a nonatomized technique.


Twenty patients were anesthetized using propofol and remifentanil. Ten minutes after rocuronium was administered, patients received 4% lidocaine (2 mg/kg) intratracheally over 2 seconds before tracheal intubation. Ten patients received atomized lidocaine using a mucosal atomization device, and the other 10 patients received nonatomized lidocaine using a traditional spray tube. Arterial lidocaine plasma concentrations were measured before; at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, and 60 minutes; and then every 60 minutes after the administration of lidocaine until the end of the operation. We developed a pharmacokinetic model to examine whether bioavailability or absorption rate was different between atomized versus nonatomized lidocaine administration. The total body clearance was fixed at a published value to determine the bioavailability.


Peak plasma concentrations were larger using the mucosal atomization device (median [range]: 1.9 [1.4−3.2] μg/mL) than the spray tube (1.1 [0.6−2.0] μg/mL; P = 0.0021). Our pharmacokinetic model estimated a difference of bioavailability between the atomized and the nonatomized lidocaine (0.801 and 0.559 respectively, P = 0.0005), whereas our model estimated no difference in the absorption rate constant (0.00688/min).


Our results suggest that when using atomized delivery of lidocaine, less drug is required to achieve a near equivalent plasma lidocaine concentration. Atomized drug administration may be a more efficient method for endotracheal drug administration.

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