Subcutaneous infiltration and wound lavage with ropivacaine is an alternative to opioids after major shoulder surgery. However, the efficacy and potential toxicity of this method remain unclear. We therefore evaluated plasma ropivacaine concentrations after shoulder infiltration and wound lavage. We subsequently quantified the efficacy of two ropivacaine concentrations. Patients undergoing major shoulder surgery were anesthetized with alfentanil and propofol. The initial patients (n = 18) received ropivacaine 7.5 mg/mL and ropivacaine plasma concentrations were measured in 15-min intervals. The subsequent 45 patients were randomly assigned to: 1) isotonic saline, 2) 3.75 mg/mL ropivacaine, or 3) 7.5 mg/mL ropivacaine. Ten milliliters of each solution was administered subcutaneously and 20 mL was injected into the wound drain which was clamped for 10 min. Supplemental postoperative pain relief was provided by patient-controlled anesthesia using the opioid piritramid (3.5-mg boluses, 6-min lock-out). Postoperative pain scores were recorded on a 100-mm visual analog scale for 4 h in the initial patients and for 10 h in the second part of the study. Unbound ropivacaine plasma concentrations peaked after 15 min at 0.08+/-0.09 microg/mL; the maximum was 0.30 microg/mL, compared with a toxic threshold of 0.6 microg/mL. In the second part of the study, pain scores were significantly lower after 3.75 mg/mL (20+/-15 mm) or 7.5 mg/mL (10+/-9 mm) ropivacaine than saline (35+/-10 mm). Piritramid requirements differed significantly in the three groups, being highest with saline and lowest with ropivacaine 7.5 mg/mL. We conclude that wound infiltration and lavage with 30 mL ropivacaine 7.5 mg/mL after major shoulder surgery resulted in very low pain scores and opioid requirement.
Implications: Wound infiltration and lavage with 30 mL ropivacaine 7.5 mg/mL after major shoulder surgery resulted in very low pain scores and opioid requirement.