Generic Name: bupivacaine (bue-PIV-a-kane hye-droe-KLOR-ide)
The 0.75% concentration of bupivacaine injection is not recommended for obstetrical anesthesia. Cardiac arrest with difficult resuscitation or death during use of bupivacaine for epidural anesthesia in obstetrical patients has been reported. The 0.75% concentration should be reserved for surgical procedures where a high degree of muscle relaxation and prolonged effect are necessary .
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on March 3, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Marcaine HCl
- Marcaine Spinal
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Anesthetic, Local
Chemical Class: Bupivacaine
Uses for bupivacaine
Bupivacaine injection is used to numb an area of your body during surgery or other procedures, childbirth, or dental work. It is a local anesthetic.
Bupivacaine injection causes a loss of feeling and prevents pain by blocking signals at the nerve endings. It does not cause loss of consciousness.
Bupivacaine is to be given only by or under the direct supervision of your doctor.
Before using bupivacaine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For bupivacaine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to bupivacaine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of bupivacaine injection in the pediatric population. Use is not recommended in children younger than 12 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of bupivacaine injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have low blood pressure or kidney problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving bupivacaine injection.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving bupivacaine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using bupivacaine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- St John's Wort
Using bupivacaine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Enalapril Maleate
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of bupivacaine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Arthritis or
- Back pain, chronic or
- Blood clotting problems or
- Headache, before surgery or
- Mental illness (eg, psychosis) or
- Paresthesia (nerve problem), persistent or
- Pernicious anemia, history of or
- Poliomyelitis, history of or
- Spinal problems or
- Syphilis, history of or
- Tumor, history of—Use with caution. May prevent the use of bupivacaine in patients with these conditions.
- Blood vessel disease or
- Heart disease or
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)—Use with caution. The chance of side effects may be increased.
- Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) or
- Heart problems or
- Lung or breathing problems or
- Methemoglobinemia (blood disorder), hereditary or idiopathic (unknown cause)—Use with caution. May increase risk of having methemoglobinemia.
- Heart rhythm problems (eg, arrhythmia, heart block) or
- Hemorrhage (bleeding), severe or
- Hypotension (low blood pressure), severe or
- Infection at the injection site or
- Septicemia (blood infection) or
- During uterine contractions —Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
Proper use of bupivacaine
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you bupivacaine in a hospital. It is sometimes given through a catheter placed into your lower back for an epidural or a spinal block.
Bupivacaine should cause numbness only to the area where it is injected. You may experience temporary loss of sensation or movement in the injected area. This type of numbing procedure is called local anesthesia. It is not meant to cause you to fall asleep or become unconscious.
You may experience temporary loss of sensation and movement, usually in the lower half of your body, if you receive bupivacaine into your lower back (epidural). It may be easier to hurt yourself while your treated body area is still numb. Be careful to avoid injury until you have regained all the feeling and are no longer numb.
To avoid injury after dental work, do not chew solid foods until normal feeling has returned to the area. Do not test the feeling in your mouth by biting or poking the treated area (up to 7 hours).
If you are receiving bupivacaine as an epidural to ease labor pains, it may take longer than normal for you to push your baby out. It is also possible that the baby may have unwanted effects after birth (including sleepiness, slow responses). Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how bupivacaine might affect your baby.
Precautions while using bupivacaine
It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress closely while receiving bupivacaine to see if it is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for any unwanted effects.
Bupivacaine may cause a rare, but serious blood problem called methemoglobinemia. The risk may be increased in children younger than 6 months of age, elderly patients, or patients with certain inborn defects. It is more likely to occur in patients receiving too much of the medicine, but can also occur with small amounts. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child has the following symptoms after receiving bupivacaine: pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nails, confusion, headache, lightheadedness, fast heartbeat, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Bupivacaine may cause a bone or joint problem called chondrolysis. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have bone or joint pain or stiffness or an inability to move.
Bupivacaine may cause low blood pressure (hypotension). This is more likely in patients with blood vessel problems, including high blood pressure (hypertension) or a decrease in blood volume. Check with your doctor right away if you have confusion, dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position, sweating, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Bupivacaine injection may also cause a dangerous increase in body temperature (hyperthermia). Check with your doctor if you or your child have fast shallow breathing, a fast, weak heartbeat, headache, muscle cramps, pale, clammy skin, or an extremely high fever or body temperature.
Bupivacaine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how bupivacaine affects you.
Check with your doctor before receiving bupivacaine with other medicines that affect the central nervous system (CNS). The use of other medicines that affect the CNS with bupivacaine injection may worsen the side effects of bupivacaine, such as dizziness, poor concentration, drowsiness, unusual dreams, and trouble with sleeping. Some examples of medicines that affect the CNS are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicines, medicine for depression, medicine for anxiety, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, or muscle relaxants.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Bupivacaine side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- blurred vision
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- chest pain or discomfort
- cold, clammy, pale skin
- continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
- decrease in the frequency and amount of urine
- difficulty in passing urine (dribbling)
- difficulty swallowing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- false or unusual sense of well-being
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- feeling sad or empty
- general feeling of illness
- hearing loss
- hives, itching, skin rash
- inability to breathe without assistance
- lack of appetite
- loss of interest or pleasure
- painful urination
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- severe headache
- slow heart rate
- slowing of labor
- stiff neck or back
- tightness in the chest
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weakness of the muscles in your face
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Incidence not known
- Abnormal ejaculation
- decreased sexual performance or desire
- loss of bladder and bowel control
- loss of genital sensation and sexual function
- no sensation in the legs
- unable to move the legs
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
More about bupivacaine
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
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- Drug class: local injectable anesthetics
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