Determination of highest no effect dose (HNED) for local anaesthetic responses to procaine, cocaine, bupivacaine and benzocaine

J. D. Harkins, G. D. Mundy, S. Stanley, W. E. Woods, W. A. Rees, K. N. Thompson, T. Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The highest no effect doses (HNEDs) for the local anaesthetic (LA) effects of procaine, cocaine, bupivacaine and benzocaine were determined using the heat lamp/hoof withdrawal model of Kamerling et al, (1985b) and the abaxial sesamoid block model of local anaesthesia. The heat lamp rapidly (4 or 5 s) increased the temperature of the superficial skin layers of the pastern to about 90°C, at which point the animal sharply withdrew its hoof. Effective LA blockade precluded this response and superficial skin temperatures exceeded 120°C. Thermal stimulus experiments were routinely terminated after 10 s of exposure to prevent undue tissue damage. Following abaxial sesamoid block with bupivacaine, the HNED for that drug was about 0.25 mg/site. Increasing the dose to 2 mg/site apparently produced complete and prolonged LA blockade. Analogous work showed that the HNED for procaine was about 2.5 mg/site. Similarly, the dose response curve for procaine was parallel with that of bupivacaine but was shifted 10-fold to the right. The duration of the LA response following procaine injection was less than for bupivacaine with the statistically significant response following 40 mg/site injection lasting less than 45 min. Cocaine was less potent than procaine, showing a shallower dose response curve. The HNED for cocaine was less than 5 mg/ site, although at this dose the duration of action was extremely short (<7.5 min). Benzocaine had no significant LA action when a dose of 800 mg was applied topically as a 5% preparation. These results show that the HNEDs for bupivacaine and procaine are remarkably low, that cocaine is somewhat less potent as a LA than might be expected, and that 5% topical benzocaine has no significant pharmacology. The small doses of bupivacaine and procaine producing effective local anaesthesia suggests that developing plasma thresholds for these agents is likely to be very challenging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


  • Abaxial
  • Drug administration
  • Heat lamp
  • Hoof withdrawal
  • Horse
  • Local anaesthesia
  • Sesamoid block

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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