Ask Dr. Dubbink: What Anesthesia Advances Are On The Horizon?

Improvements in medication mean improvements in patient care. Dr. Doug Dubbink explains an exciting new development for treating postsurgical pain.

anesthesia advances woman watching sunset

Local anesthetics block the sensation of pain—until they wear off. Medical researchers are working on anesthesia advances that extend the effectiveness of these medications. Summit’s lead anesthesiologist, Dr. Doug Dubbink, discusses the development of one longer-lasting anesthetic. It could make postsurgical recovery much more comfortable for patients.

“Marcaine™—also called bupivacaine—is a drug that’s been around forever,” he explains. “At Summit surgery centers, we administer it perioperatively—just before surgery—to block the incision area. It’s not our only option for pain control, but it’s been a useful tool.”

A familiar drug delivered in a new way.

“One company has taken Marcaine and encapsulated it in a liposomal membrane,” Dr. Dubbink continues. “The membrane is a slow-release mechanism. Without the membrane, Marcaine can numb a peripheral nerve for 12 to 16 hours. With the membrane, the effects of the drug can last for 48 and up to 72 hours.”

What does this new form of drug delivery mean for patients?

This new development is significant because postoperative pain is most intense during the first two to three days following surgery. “After the first two or three days, an incision is still sore,” says Dr. Dubbink, “but it’s not as painful as it is immediately following surgery. With anesthesia advances like this new version of Marcaine to control pain, we can further minimize the use of narcotics. Patients will be comfortable following surgery, but they won’t feel sedated or have the nausea and constipation that come with narcotics. They also won’t have to worry about the risk of narcotics addiction.”

Safer, more effective pain medication for surgical patients.

Dr. Dubbink expects this development to expand the use of Marcaine. “Now, Marcaine is injected around an incision at the time of surgery,” he says. “Going forward, we may look at using it to do some nerve blocks. What’s exciting is the prospect of having a way to administer this drug that helps manage pain for a longer period of time. Wouldn’t it be a great thing if we could keep patients pain-free for three days without worrisome side effects? That would be awesome.”

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  • Douglas A. Dubbink, M.D.

    “My goal is to improve my patient’s surgical experience. I strive to provide calm gentle reassurance for patients who are anxious about anesthesia and ensure that every patient is skillfully cared for throughout their entire procedure. When a patient awakens after surgery and openly wonders why they were so nervous previously, I know I’ve done my job.”

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