Effect of intravenous lipid emulsion on bupivacaine plasma concentration in humans

Anaesthesia. 2012 Jun;67(6):600-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2012.07056.x. Epub 2012 Feb 21.


Intravenous lipid emulsion is the recommended treatment for severe local anaesthetic intoxication. Lipid emulsion may entrap lipid soluble drugs by functioning as a 'lipid sink', but its effect on bupivacaine pharmacokinetics remains unknown. In this randomised, double-blind, crossover study, eight healthy male volunteers were infused bupivacaine 0.5mg.kg(-1) intravenously over 20 min, followed by an infusion of either intravenous lipid emulsion or Hartmann's solution for 30 min. At 20 and 30 min after the start of the infusion, the total plasma bupivacaine concentration was lower while receiving lipid emulsion than Hartmann's solution (mean difference 111 (95% CI 55-167) μg.l(-1) and 75 (95% CI 26-124 μg.l(-1) at 20 and 30 min, respectively; p<0.02). However, there were no differences in un-entrapped (non-lipid bound) or free (non-protein bound) bupivacaine plasma concentrations during the infusion. Intravenous lipid emulsion infusion reduced the context-sensitive half-life of total plasma bupivacaine from 45 (95% CI 32-76)min to 25 (95% CI 20-33)min; p=0.01. We observed no significant adverse effects of lipid emulsion. In conclusion, lipid emulsion may slightly increase the rate of bupivacaine tissue distribution. No 'lipid sink' effect was observed with the non-toxic dose of bupivacaine used.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Local / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Anesthetics, Local / blood
  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacokinetics*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Bupivacaine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Bupivacaine / blood
  • Bupivacaine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / adverse effects
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Half-Life
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Young Adult


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous
  • Oxygen
  • Bupivacaine