5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
5.1 General Warnings and Precautions
Prior to receiving major blocks the general condition of the patient should be optimized and the patient should have an IV line inserted. All necessary precautions should be taken to avoid intravascular injection. Local anesthetics should only be administered by clinicians who are well versed in the diagnosis and management of dose-related toxicity and other acute emergencies which might arise from the block to be employed, and then only after insuring the immediate (without delay) availability of oxygen, other resuscitative drugs, cardiopulmonary resuscitative equipment, and the personnel resources needed for proper management of toxic reactions and related emergencies [see Adverse Reactions (6) and Overdosage (10.1)]. Delay in proper management of dose-related toxicity, underventilation from any cause, and/or altered sensitivity may lead to the development of acidosis, cardiac arrest and, possibly, death.
The safe and effective use of local anesthetics depends on proper dosage, correct technique, adequate precautions and readiness for emergencies.
Resuscitative equipment, oxygen and other resuscitative drugs should be available for immediate use [see Adverse Reactions (6)]. The lowest dosage that results in effective anesthesia should be used to avoid high plasma levels and serious adverse events. Injections should be made slowly and incrementally, with frequent aspirations before and during the injection to avoid intravascular injection. When a continuous catheter technique is used, syringe aspirations should also be performed before and during each supplemental injection. During the administration of epidural anesthesia, it is recommended that a test dose of a local anesthetic with a fast onset be administered initially and that the patient be monitored for central nervous system and cardiovascular toxicity, as well as for signs of unintended intrathecal administration before proceeding. When clinical conditions permit, consideration should be given to employing local anesthetic solutions, which contain epinephrine for the test dose because circulatory changes compatible with epinephrine may also serve as a warning sign of unintended intravascular injection. An intravascular injection is still possible even if aspirations for blood are negative. Administration of higher than recommended doses of ropivacaine hydrochloride to achieve greater motor blockade or increased duration of sensory blockade may result in cardiovascular depression, particularly in the event of inadvertent intravascular injection. Tolerance to elevated blood levels varies with the physical condition of the patient. Debilitated, elderly patients and acutely ill patients should be given reduced doses commensurate with their age and physical condition. Local anesthetics should also be used with caution in patients with hypotension, hypovolemia or heart block.
Solutions of ropivacaine hydrochloride should not be used for the production of obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia, retrobulbar block, or spinal anesthesia (subarachnoid block) due to insufficient data to support such use. Intravenous regional anesthesia (bier block) should not be performed due to a lack of clinical experience and the risk of attaining toxic blood levels of ropivacaine.
It is essential that aspiration for blood, or cerebrospinal fluid (where applicable), be done prior to injecting any local anesthetic, both the original dose and all subsequent doses, to avoid intravascular or subarachnoid injection. However, a negative aspiration does not ensure against an intravascular or subarachnoid injection.
5.2 Unintended Intravenous Injection
In performing ropivacaine hydrochloride blocks, unintended intravenous injection is possible and may result in cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrest. The potential for successful resuscitation has not been studied in humans. There have been rare reports of cardiac arrest during the use of ropivacaine hydrochloride for epidural anesthesia or peripheral nerve blockade, the majority of which occurred after unintentional accidental intravascular administration in elderly patients and in patients with concomitant heart disease. In some instances, resuscitation has been difficult. Should cardiac arrest occur, prolonged resuscitative efforts may be required to improve the probability of a successful outcome.
Ropivacaine hydrochloride should be administered in incremental doses. It is not recommended for emergency situations, where a fast onset of surgical anesthesia is necessary. Historically, pregnant patients were reported to have a high risk for cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac/circulatory arrest and death when 0.75% bupivacaine (another member of the amino amide class of local anesthetics) was inadvertently rapidly injected intravenously.
5.3 Intra-Articular Infusions and Risk of Chondrolysis
Intra-articular infusions of local anesthetics following arthroscopic and other surgical procedures is an unapproved use, and there have been post-marketing reports of chondrolysis in patients receiving such infusions. The majority of reported cases of chondrolysis have involved the shoulder joint; cases of gleno‑humeral chondrolysis have been described in pediatric and adult patients following intra-articular infusions of local anesthetics with and without epinephrine for periods of 48 to 72 hours. There is insufficient information to determine whether shorter infusion periods are not associated with these findings. The time of onset of symptoms, such as joint pain, stiffness and loss of motion can be variable, but may begin as early as the 2nd month after surgery. Currently, there is no effective treatment for chondrolysis; patients who experienced chondrolysis have required additional diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and some required arthroplasty or shoulder replacement.
5.4 Risk of Methemoglobinemia
Cases of methemoglobinemia have been reported in association with local anesthetic use. Although all patients are at risk for methemoglobinemia, patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, congenital or idiopathic methemoglobinemia, cardiac or pulmonary compromise, infants under 6 months of age, and concurrent exposure to oxidizing agents or their metabolites are more susceptible to developing clinical manifestations of the condition. If local anesthetics must be used in these patients, close monitoring for symptoms and signs of methemoglobinemia is recommended.
Signs of methemoglobinemia may occur immediately or may be delayed some hours after exposure, and are characterized by a cyanotic skin discoloration and/or abnormal coloration of the blood. Methemoglobin levels may continue to rise; therefore, immediate treatment is required to avert more serious central nervous system and cardiovascular adverse effects, including seizures, coma, arrhythmias, and death. Discontinue ropivacaine hydrochloride and any other oxidizing agents. Depending on the severity of the signs and symptoms, patients may respond to supportive care, i.e., oxygen therapy, hydration. A more severe clinical presentation may require treatment with methylene blue, exchange transfusion, or hyperbaric oxygen.
5.5 Central Nervous System Toxicity
Careful and constant monitoring of cardiovascular and respiratory vital signs (adequacy of ventilation) and the patient's state of consciousness should be performed after each local anesthetic injection. It should be kept in mind at such times that restlessness, anxiety, incoherent speech, light-headedness, numbness and tingling of the mouth and lips, metallic taste, tinnitus, dizziness, blurred vision, tremors, twitching, depression, or drowsiness may be early warning signs of central nervous system toxicity.
5.6 Epidural Anesthesia
A well-known risk of epidural anesthesia may be an unintentional subarachnoid injection of local anesthetic. Two clinical studies have been performed to verify the safety of ropivacaine hydrochloride at a volume of 3 mL injected into the subarachnoid space since this dose represents an incremental epidural volume that could be unintentionally injected. The 15 and 22.5 mg doses injected resulted in sensory levels as high as T5 and T4, respectively. Anesthesia to pinprick started in the sacral dermatomes in 2 to 3 minutes, extended to the T10 level in 10 to 13 minutes and lasted for approximately 2 hours. The results of these two clinical studies showed that a 3 mL dose did not produce any serious adverse events when spinal anesthesia blockade was achieved.
During epidural administration, ropivacaine hydrochloride should be administered in incremental doses of 3 to 5 mL with sufficient time between doses to detect toxic manifestations of unintentional intravascular or intrathecal injection. Syringe aspirations should also be performed before and during each supplemental injection in continuous (intermittent) catheter techniques. An intravascular injection is still possible even if aspirations for blood are negative. During the administration of epidural anesthesia, it is recommended that a test dose be administered initially and the effects monitored before the full dose is given. When clinical conditions permit, the test dose should contain an appropriate dose of epinephrine to serve as a warning of unintentional intravascular injection. If injected into a blood vessel, this amount of epinephrine is likely to produce a transient "epinephrine response" within 45 seconds, consisting of an increase in heart rate and systolic blood pressure, circumoral pallor, palpitations and nervousness in the unsedated patient. The sedated patient may exhibit only a pulse rate increase of 20 or more beats per minute for 15 or more seconds. Therefore, following the test dose, the heart should be continuously monitored for a heart rate increase. Patients on beta‑blockers may not manifest changes in heart rate, but blood pressure monitoring can detect a rise in systolic blood pressure. A test dose of a short-acting amide anesthetic such as lidocaine is recommended to detect an unintentional intrathecal administration. This will be manifested within a few minutes by signs of spinal block (e.g., decreased sensation of the buttocks, paresis of the legs, or, in the sedated patient, absent knee jerk). An intravascular or subarachnoid injection is still possible even if results of the test dose are negative. The test dose itself may produce a systemic toxic reaction, high spinal or epinephrine-induced cardiovascular effects.
5.7 Use in Brachial Plexus Block
Ropivacaine plasma concentrations may approach the threshold for central nervous system toxicity after the administration of 300 mg of ropivacaine for brachial plexus block. Caution should be exercised when using the 300 mg dose [see Overdosage (10)].
The dose for a major nerve block must be adjusted according to the site of administration and patient status. Supraclavicular brachial plexus blocks may be associated with a higher frequency of serious adverse reactions, regardless of the local anesthetic used.
5.8 Use in Peripheral Nerve Block
Major peripheral nerve blocks may result in the administration of a large volume of local anesthetic in highly vascularized areas, often close to large vessels where there is an increased risk of intravascular injection and/or rapid systemic absorption, which can lead to high plasma concentrations.
5.9 Use in Head and Neck Area
Small doses of local anesthetics injected into the head and neck area may produce adverse reactions similar to systemic toxicity seen with unintentional intravascular injections of larger doses. The injection procedures require the utmost care. Confusion, convulsions, respiratory depression, and/or respiratory arrest, and cardiovascular stimulation or depression have been reported. These reactions may be due to intra-arterial injection of the local anesthetic with retrograde flow to the cerebral circulation. Patients receiving these blocks should have their circulation and respiration monitored and be constantly observed. Resuscitative equipment and personnel for treating adverse reactions should be immediately available. Dosage recommendations should not be exceeded [see Dosage and Administration (2.2)].
5.10 Use in Ophthalmic Surgery
The use of ropivacaine hydrochloride in retrobulbar blocks for ophthalmic surgery has not been studied. Until appropriate experience is gained, the use of ropivacaine hydrochloride for such surgery is not recommended.
5.11 Hepatic Disease
Because amide-type local anesthetics such as ropivacaine are metabolized by the liver, these drugs, especially repeat doses,should be used cautiously in patients with hepatic disease. Patients with severe hepatic disease, because of their inability to metabolize local anesthetics normally, are at a greater risk of developing toxic plasma concentrations.
5.12 Cardiovascular Impairment
Local anesthetics should also be used with caution in patients with impaired cardiovascular function because they may be less able to compensate for functional changes associated with the prolongation of A-V conduction produced by these drugs.
5.13 Risk of Additive Effects
Ropivacaine hydrochloride should be used with caution in patients receiving other local anesthetics or agents structurally related to amide-type local anesthetics, since the toxic effects of these drugs are additive [see Drug Interactions (7)].
Patients treated with class III antiarrhythmic drugs (e.g., amiodarone) should be under close surveillance and ECG monitoring considered, since cardiac effects may be additive [see Drug Interactions (7)].
5.14 Malignant Hyperthermia
Many drugs used during the conduct of anesthesia are considered potential triggering agents for malignant hyperthermia (MH). Amide-type local anesthetics are not known to trigger this reaction. However, since the need for supplemental general anesthesia cannot be predicted in advance, it is suggested that a standard protocol for MH management should be available.