Thrombin and topical local anesthetic for postoperative pain management

Nicholas T. Haddock, Andrew L. Weinstein, Sammy Sinno, David T W Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Local anesthetic is often used for perioperative pain control. Thrombin serves as a carrying medium for sustained release of antibiotics, chemotherapy, and growth factors. We tested the hypothesis that local anesthetic pain relief can be prolonged with the adjunct use of thrombin. Methods: A prospective single-blinded clinical study was performed. Patients undergoing elective hand surgery inclusive of carpal tunnel release, excision of ganglion cyst, trigger finger release, and excision of mucous cyst under local block were enlisted. Before closure, patients received 1 of the following combinations: (1) control with oral analgesics, (2) 5 mL of 2% xylocaine, (3) 5 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine, (4) 2.5 mL of 2% xylocaine with 2.5 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine (XB), (5) thrombin with 5 mL of 2% xylocaine (XT), (6) thrombin with 5 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine (BT), and (7) thrombin with 2.5 mL of 2% xylocaine and 2.5 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine (XBT). There were 7 patients in each group, and patient demographics were similar between groups. Outcome measures included postanesthesia care unit (PACU) time, pain level, and number of pain pills required. Results: Compared with oral analgesics alone, mean (SD) postoperative pain levels were reduced by 33.3% (8.9%) by xylocaine, 69.1% (8.7%) by bupivacaine, and 45.7% (9.4%) by XB. When thrombin was added, pain levels were further reduced by 69.9% by XT (P < 0.001), 23.1% by BT (P = 0.071), and 50.5% by XBT (P < 0.001) compared with their nonthrombin counterparts. In addition, PACU time was decreased by 34.8% by XT (P = 0.003) and 19.7% by XBT (P = 0.013) compared with xylocaine and XB, respectively. However, there was no difference in total pain pills needed between xylocaine, bupivacaine, and XB when administered with and without thrombin. Conclusions: The addition of topical thrombin to local anesthetic at the end of elective hand surgery provides for sustained postoperative pain control. Patients in this study who received thrombin and local anesthetic before wound closure had lower pain levels and were discharged from the PACU sooner than those who received local anesthetic alone. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic level 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-32
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • bupivacaine
  • elective hand surgery
  • local anesthetic
  • pain
  • thrombin
  • xylocaine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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