Central Effects of Local Anesthetic Agents

  • J. M. Garfield
  • L. Gugino
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 81)


The term “local anesthetic”, as used clinically, implies a substance that blocks sensory and motor innervation of a discrete, peripheral area or region of the body, as opposed to the state of central narcosis induced by general anesthetic agents. Despite this clinical distinction, local anesthetics are potent drugs, affecting cell membranes, neurotransmitter function, and neuronal excitability. When these agents enter the central nervous system (CNS), a myriad of excitatory and inhibitory behavioral effects can occur, including somnolence, confusion, agitation, excitation and, ultimately, frank seizure activity. In this chapter, we will first consider routes by which the local anesthetics gain access to the CNS, then discuss their behavioral and neuropharmacologic effects, and, finally, their effects on neuronal excitability at regional CNS sites.


Local Anesthetic Seizure Activity Limbic System Local Anesthetic Agent Motor Seizure 
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  • J. M. Garfield
  • L. Gugino

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