Properties Of Local Anesthetics

An important property of the ideal local anesthetic is low systemic toxicity at an effective concentration. Onset of action should be quick, and duration of action should be sufficient to allow time for the surgical procedure. The local anesthetic should be soluble in water and stable in solution. It should not deteriorate by the heat of sterilization, and it should be effective both when injected into tissue and when applied topically to mucous membranes. Its effects should be completely reversible.

Although the characteristics of an ideal local anesthetic are easily identifiable, synthesis of a compound possessing all these properties has not been accomplished. The compounds discussed in the following sections fall short of the ideal in at least one aspect. However, the judicious choice of a particular agent for a particular need will permit the practitioner to employ local anesthesia effectively and safely.

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