Spinal bupivacaine in ambulatory surgery: The effect of saline dilution

Bruce Ben-David, Hilton Levin, Eric Solomon, Hillel Admoni, Sonya Vaida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


The safety of lidocaine spinal anesthesia has recently been called into question by reports of both permanent and transient neurologic toxicity. This study explored the possibility of adapting the longer acting spinal bupivacaine to ambulatory surgery. Sixty patients presenting for ambulatory arthroscopy were randomized to four groups receiving the following spinal anesthetics: Group I (15 mg bupivacaine), 3 mL of 0.5% spinal bupivacaine in 8% dextrose; Group II (10 mg bupivacaine), 2 mL of the 0.5% spinal bupivacaine + 1 mL saline; Group III (7.5 mg bupivacaine), 1.5 mL of the 0.5% spinal bupivacaine + 1.5 mL saline; Group IV (5 mg bupivacaine), 1 mL of the 0.5% spinal bupivacaine + 2 mL saline. Maximum block height was T-5 in Group 1 versus T-8 in the other groups. Onset times to peak block were similar in all groups and averaged 14 min. Time to two segment regression, complete regression, micturition, and discharge were significantly reduced from Group I to Group II and from Group II to Group III. Reductions in times between Groups III and IV did not achieve statistical significance. Times from placement of the spinal block until discharge were 471 ± 35, 260 ± 15, 202 ± 14, and 181 ± 8 min, respectively, for the four groups. The intensity of motor block decreased significantly from group to group, such that 13 of the 15 patients in Group IV failed to achieve Bromage level 2 or 3. The intensity of sensory block also decreased from group to group with four patients in Group IV having pain intraoperatively that required further treatment. Therefore, Group III provided the optimum combination of adequate depth of anesthesia and rapid recovery. The results of this study indicate that spinal anesthesia with 7.5 mg of 0.5% bupivacaine in 8% dextrose diluted with an equal volume of saline provides an acceptable spinal anesthetic for ambulatory arthroscopy with a recovery profile appropriate to the ambulatory setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-720
Number of pages5
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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