We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Local Anesthetic Toxicity?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Local anesthetic toxicity is the acute reaction to medications that are used to temporarily cut pain signals at a site for a medical procedure. Patients can receive local anesthesia for quick treatment of issues that don’t require more extensive anesthetic, like a laceration in need of sutures. It may also be used in more extensive procedures, if it is appropriate; the patient may be sedated to stay calm while pain at the surgical site is controlled with local agents. These compounds have the potential to cause severe, and sometimes unexpected, reactions.

Patients may receive overdoses if a medical provider doesn’t calculate the dose correctly or administers too much to control pain. Sometimes local anesthetic absorbs more rapidly than expected, creating toxicity, or it is accidentally rapidly injected into a vein. Other patients may experience a spontaneous reaction that could not have been predicted or prevented.

Early signs of local anesthetic toxicity can include redness and irritation around the site. The patient’s central nervous system may become involved, slowing respiration and heart rate, and sometimes anaphylactic shock occurs. In this case, as the body attempts to metabolize the local anesthetic, the immune system mistakenly believes it is foreign, and engages in an overreaction. A systemic reaction can occur as inflammation spreads, causing swelling everywhere, including the airways.

Seizures can develop in some cases, the result of central nervous system disruptions. The patient’s distress may onset very rapidly, especially in people who are compromised because of injuries and existing medical problems. Careful monitoring can help a medical team identify local anesthetic toxicity as soon as possible so the patient gets appropriate treatment quickly.

Treatments for local anesthetic toxicity can include intubation for patients who are having trouble breathing and anti-seizure medications for patients who are going into seizures or spasms. Lipid emulsions can help reverse the actions of the local anesthetic to stabilize the patient and may be administered quickly. In cases where the heart rate is depressed or erratic, treatment with medications or shock therapy may be necessary. Once the patient is stable, the team can continue with treatment.

People who have experienced local anesthetic toxicity should make sure it is located in their charts. They may be allergic to a given agent, in which case they should not receive it again, or they could be more sensitive to it than other patients. Awareness of this information can help doctors plan procedures with the patient’s safety in mind.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.