Lidocaine is administered to assess donor or recipient liver function during hepatic transplantation. This study was performed to determine whether lidocaine administered at a constant concentration affected hepatic function or had demonstrable effects on hepatocellular ultrastructure. Fourteen pigs were randomly allocated to receive either a two-stage infusion of lidocaine hydrochloride or of saline. Transhepatic blood samples were taken and ultrasonic portal venous and hepatic arterial blood flow readings made on animals anesthetized with isoflurane in nitrous oxide. Liver biopsies were taken for histological analysis and determination of adenine nucleotide status prior to and after 2 hr of the two-stage infusion. A mean systemic constant plasma lidocaine concentration of 5.9 μg/ml was achieved during the second hour of infusion. There were no differences between the two groups in a large number of indices of hepatic function and plasma composition prior to and during the second hour of the respective infusions. Hepatic blood flow was also similar at these times. On histological examination there were no electron microscopic changes that could be specifically attributed to the administration of lidocaine. However, there were progressive changes with time. This study suggests that in anesthetized pigs a constant lidocaine concentration of about 6 μg/ml has no detrimental effect on hepatic function. Progressive hepatic ultrastructural changes occurred that could not be attributed to the administration of lidocaine. These may be the result of anesthetic administered or the surgery performed.
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