Does Liposomal Bupivacaine (Exparel) Significantly Reduce Postoperative Pain/Numbness in Symptomatic Teeth with a Diagnosis of Necrosis? A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind Trial

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Medical studies have shown some potential for infiltrations of liposomal bupivacaine (Exparel; Pacira Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, CA), a slow-release bupivacaine solution, to extend postoperative benefits of numbness/pain relief for up to several days. Because the Food and Drug Administration has approved Exparel only for infiltrations, we wanted to evaluate if it would be effective as an infiltration to control postoperative pain. The purpose of this study was to compare an infiltration of bupivacaine with liposomal bupivacaine for postoperative numbness and pain in symptomatic patients diagnosed with pulpal necrosis experiencing moderate to severe preoperative pain.


One hundred patients randomly received a 4.0-mL buccal infiltration of either bupivacaine or liposomal bupivacaine after endodontic debridement. For postoperative pain, patients were given ibuprofen/acetaminophen, and they could receive narcotic pain medication as an escape. Patients recorded their level of numbness, pain, and medication use the night of the appointment and over the next 5 days. Success was defined as no or mild postoperative pain and no narcotic use.


The success rate was 29% for the liposomal group and 22% for the bupivacaine group, with no significant difference (P = .4684) between the groups. Liposomal bupivacaine had some effect on soft tissue numbness, pain, and use of non-narcotic medications, but it was not clinically significant. There was no significant difference in the need for escape medication.


For symptomatic patients diagnosed with pulpal necrosis experiencing moderate to severe preoperative pain, a 4.0-mL infiltration of liposomal bupivacaine did not result in a statistically significant increase in postoperative success compared with an infiltration of 4.0 mL bupivacaine.

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