Presentation of Neurolytic Effect of 10% Lidocaine after Perineural Ultrasound Guided Injection of a Canine Sciatic Nerve: A Pilot Study.

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Korean J Pain


BACKGROUND: Phenol and alcohol have been used to ablate nerves to treat pain but are not specific for nerves and can damage surrounding soft tissue. Lidocaine at concentrations > 8% injected intrathecal in the animal model has been shown to be neurotoxic. Tests the hypothesis that 10% lidocaine is neurolytic after a peri-neural blockade in an ex vivo experiment on the canine sciatic nerve.

METHODS: Under ultrasound, one canine sciatic nerve was injected peri-neurally with 10 cc saline and another with 10 cc of 10% lidocaine. After 20 minutes, the sciatic nerve was dissected with gross inspection. A 3 cm segment was excised and preserved in 10% buffered formalin fixative solution. Both samples underwent progressive dehydration and infusion of paraffin after which they were placed on paraffin blocks. The sections were cut at 4 µm and stained with hemoxylin and eosin. Microscopic review was performed by a pathologist from Henry Ford Hospital who was blinded to which experimental group each sample was in.

RESULTS: The lidocaine injected nerve demonstrated loss of gross architecture on visual inspection while the saline injected nerve did not. No gross changes were seen in the surrounding soft tissue seen in either group. The lidocaine injected sample showed basophilic degeneration with marked cytoplasmic vacuolation in the nerve fibers with separation of individual fibers and endoneurial edema. The saline injected sample showed normal neural tissue.

CONCLUSIONS: Ten percent lidocaine causes rapid neurolytic changes with ultrasound guided peri-neural injection. The study was limited by only a single nerve being tested with acute exposure.

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