What is Marcaine&Reg;?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Marcaine® is one name for a drug manufactured by the company AstraZenca® that contains the active medicine bupivacaine. Although its use is limited to a few, specific medical conditions, it is a popular medication. Principally, Marcaine® is administered in spinal injections as part of local anesthesia. It is highly effective at inducing numbness through a variety of spinal or epidural blocks prior to surgeries.


Since Marcaine® is delivered only by injection or through a catheter into the spinal space, people won’t use this medicine at home and won’t need to worry about dosing. The appropriate dosage and decision whether Marcaine® is the right drug is made by anesthesiologists in most cases. If a surgery is planned where an epidural or spinal block is needed, anesthesiologists would likely call or meet with patients in advance of the surgery, and take a full medical history to can rule out using certain drugs. Bupivacaine might not be considered for those with spinal irregularities, syphilis, arthritis, or diseases or treatment that affect blood-clotting time.

Marcaine® is often contraindicated for use when women are pregnant because it can have toxic effects on the fetus. Despite this, bupivacaine can be used for epidurals during labor or delivery. There is some caution about using the drug at its highest dose, so dose strengths are typically lower. This means additional medicines like opioids might be given in combination with the local anesthetic drug.

Since people ordinarily receive bupivacaine in hospital or clinic settings, they are usually under careful watch by medical personnel. This is important for several reasons. If there are adverse reactions to the drug like seizure or a weakened heart rate, this matter can be medically addressed. Additionally, people who have local anesthetic administered into the spinal cord usually have extremely restricted movement capacity from the waist down and will not be able to walk until the medication wears off.

A few people also encounter unpleasant, though usually medically insignificant, symptoms when they receive Marcaine®. It’s not unusual for the drug to cause feelings of nausea or vomiting. The back or the head can hurt too, and some people feel dizzy, or disoriented due to lack of feeling in the body. Some people can be allergic to bupivacaine, and symptoms to point out to medical staff at hand are rash, itchiness, swelling of mouth, lips or tongue, and difficult breathing or wheezing.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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