Systemic lidocaine shortens length of hospital stay after colorectal surgery: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial

Ann Surg. 2007 Aug;246(2):192-200. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e31805dac11.


Objective: To characterize the beneficial effects of perioperative systemic lidocaine on length of hospital stay, gastrointestinal motility, and the inflammatory response after colorectal surgery.

Summary background data: Surgery-induced stimulation of the inflammatory response plays a major role in the development of several postoperative disorders. Local anesthetics possess anti-inflammatory activity and are thought to positively affect patients' outcome after surgery. This double-blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial aimed to evaluate beneficial effects of systemic lidocaine and to provide insights into underlying mechanisms.

Methods: Sixty patients undergoing colorectal surgery, not willing or unable to receive an epidural catheter, were randomly assigned to lidocaine or placebo treatment. Before induction of general anesthesia, an intravenous lidocaine bolus (1.5 mg/kg) was administered followed by a continuous lidocaine infusion (2 mg/min) until 4 hours postoperatively. Length of hospital stay, gastrointestinal motility, and pain scores were recorded and plasma levels or expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators determined.

Results: Lidocaine significantly accelerated return of bowel function and shortened length of hospital stay by one day. No difference could be observed in daily pain ratings. Elevated plasma levels of IL-6, IL-8, complement C3a, and IL-1ra as well as expression of CD11b, L- and P-selectin, and platelet-leukocyte aggregates were significantly attenuated by systemic lidocaine.

Conclusions: Perioperative intravenous lidocaine not only improved gastrointestinal motility but also shortened length of hospital stay significantly. Anti-inflammatory activity modulating the surgery-induced stress response may be one potential mechanism. Systemic lidocaine may thus provide a convenient and inexpensive approach to improve outcome for patients not suitable for epidural anesthesia.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • CD11b Antigen / biosynthesis
  • CD11b Antigen / blood
  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Colonic Diseases / blood
  • Colonic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Colonic Diseases / surgery*
  • Complement C3a / biosynthesis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis
  • Interleukins / blood
  • L-Selectin / biosynthesis
  • L-Selectin / blood
  • Length of Stay / trends*
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • P-Selectin / biosynthesis
  • P-Selectin / blood
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Rectal Diseases / blood
  • Rectal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Rectal Diseases / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Biomarkers
  • CD11b Antigen
  • ITGAM protein, human
  • Interleukins
  • P-Selectin
  • L-Selectin
  • Complement C3a
  • Lidocaine