Besides the well-known analgesic effects of amide-linked local anesthetics exerted via the inhibition of the voltage-gated sodium channel, these substances also possess a certain number of properties, which bear the potential to positively influence the outcome after surgery. The results of several experimental as well as clinical studies suggest the possibility of an enhanced recovery after surgery, reduction in the incidence of chronic pain, preservation of endothelial barrier function during acute lung injury and the prevention of metastasis of solid tumors by systemic effects of local anesthetic administration. Mechanistic studies were able to identify several "new targets", such as the inhibition of spinal glycine transporters or of inflammatory signaling as induced by tumor necrosis factor alpha. Further elucidation of these mechanistic pathways as well as the translation of these promising experimental results into clinical practice is a crucial component of research activities in the field of anesthesia.
Keywords: Anesthetics, local; Inflammation; Neoplasms; Pain; Treatment outcome.