The intra-articular administration of lidocaine is a frequent practice in human orthopaedic surgical procedures, but an eventual absorption of the drug into the bloodstream can lead to toxicity, mainly concerning the central nervous system and the cardiovascular systems. The purpose of this study was to determine the pharmacokinetic profile and the safety, in terms of cardiovascular and CNS toxicity, of lidocaine after intra-articular administration to anesthetized dogs undergoing arthroscopy.
Lidocaine 2% was administered to eight dogs before surgery in differing amounts, depending on the volume of the joints involved, and blood samples were taken at predetermined time points. The maximum serum concentration of lidocaine ranged from 0.50 to 3.01 μg/mL (mean ± SD: 2.18 ± 0.91 μg/mL), and the time to reach it was 28.75 ± 15.74 min. No signs of cardiac toxicity were detected during the entire procedure, and possible signs of CNS toxicity were masked by the anaesthesia. However, concentrations reported in literature as responsible for neurotoxicity in dog were achieved in three of eight investigated subjects.
Pending further studies, veterinarians should consider the possibility of side effects occurring following the intra-articular administration of local anaesthetics.