Updates in our understanding of local anaesthetic systemic toxicity: a narrative review.
Despite advances in clinical practice, local anaesthetic systemic toxicity continues to occur with the therapeutic use of local anaesthesia. Patterns of presentation have evolved over recent years due in part to the increasing use of ultrasound which has been demonstrated to reduce risk. Onset of toxicity is increasingly delayed, a greater proportion of clinical reports are secondary to fascial plane blocks, and cases are increasing where non-anaesthetist providers are involved. The evolving clinical context presents a challenge for diagnosis and requires education of all physicians, nurses and allied health professionals about these changing patterns and risks. This review discusses: mechanisms; prevention; diagnosis; and treatment of local anaesthetic systemic toxicity. The local anaesthetic and dose used, site of injection and block conduct and technique are all important determinants of local anaesthetic systemic toxicity, as are various patient factors. Risk mitigation is discussed including the care of at-risk groups, such as: those at the extremes of age; patients with cardiac, hepatic and specific metabolic diseases; and those who are pregnant. Advances in the changing clinical landscape with novel applications and settings for the use of local anaesthesia are also described. Finally, we signpost future directions to potentially improve the management of local anaesthetic systemic toxicity. The utility of local anaesthetics remains unquestionable in clinical practice, and thus maximising the safe and appropriate use of these drugs should translate to improvements in patient care.