Intravenous Lidocaine May Prevent Chronic Pain After Mastectomy

Pharmacy Times, August 2015 Pain Awareness, Volume 81, Issue 8

Using a common local anesthetic during surgery can reduce the likelihood of women developing chronic pain following the a mastectomy.

Although more than two-thirds of women who have had mastectomies experience chronic pain, the results of a recent study suggest that using a common local anesthetic during surgery can reduce the likelihood of women developing chronic pain following the procedure.

The study, presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ 2014 annual meeting, gave intravenous (IV) lidocaine to 33 patients undergoing mastectomy, with an additional 28 participants receiving placebo. Six months after surgery, 12% of the women who received IV lidocaine had developed chronic pain compared with 30% of those in the placebo group. The research team determined that the use of IV lidocaine during surgery was associated with a 20-fold decrease in post-mastectomy pain.

“Unfortunately, chronic pain is a condition that many breast cancer patients endure after mastectomy,” said lead author Mohamed Tiouririne, MD, in a press release. “Our findings indicate that IV lidocaine can protect mastectomy patients from developing chronic pain, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory effects associated with the medication.”

The researchers also found, however, that women with breast implants and those who had radiotherapy had a 16-fold and 29-fold increase, respectively, in post-mastectomy pain even if they received lidocaine. The study authors noted that further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of lidocaine 1 year or more after mastectomy, as well as to evaluate the treatment’s effect on daily activity and mental health.