The use of intravenous lidocaine for postoperative pain and recovery: international consensus statement on efficacy and safety

Anaesthesia. 2021 Feb;76(2):238-250. doi: 10.1111/anae.15270. Epub 2020 Nov 3.


Intravenous lidocaine is used widely for its effect on postoperative pain and recovery but it can be, and has been, fatal when used inappropriately and incorrectly. The risk-benefit ratio of i.v. lidocaine varies with type of surgery and with patient factors such as comorbidity (including pre-existing chronic pain). This consensus statement aims to address three questions. First, does i.v. lidocaine effectively reduce postoperative pain and facilitate recovery? Second, is i.v. lidocaine safe? Third, does the fact that i.v. lidocaine is not licensed for this indication affect its use? We suggest that i.v. lidocaine should be regarded as a 'high-risk' medicine. Individual anaesthetists may feel that, in selected patients, i.v. lidocaine may be beneficial as part of a multimodal peri-operative pain management strategy. This approach should be approved by hospital medication governance systems, and the individual clinical decision should be made with properly informed consent from the patient concerned. If i.v. lidocaine is used, we recommend an initial dose of no more than 1.5 , calculated using the patient's ideal body weight and given as an infusion over 10 min. Thereafter, an infusion of no more than 1.5 .h-1 for no longer than 24 h is recommended, subject to review and re-assessment. Intravenous lidocaine should not be used at the same time as, or within the period of action of, other local anaesthetic interventions. This includes not starting i.v. lidocaine within 4 h after any nerve block, and not performing any nerve block until 4 h after discontinuing an i.v. lidocaine infusion.

Keywords: efficacy; idocaine; pain; safety.

Publication types

  • Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Comorbidity
  • Consensus
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Lidocaine / adverse effects
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use*
  • Nerve Block
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Patient Safety
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine