Nerve blocks with 5% butamben suspension for the treatment of chronic pain syndromes

M. Shulman*, T. R. Lubenow, H. A. Nath, W. Blazek, R. J. McCarthy, A. D. Ivankovich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives. Butamben is a non-water-soluble local anesthetic that can be prepared as an aqueous suspension for nerve blocks. This report describes the use of 5% butamben suspension for the treatment of chronic pain of cancer and noncancer origin. Methods. The clinical courses of 75 consecutive patients were analyzed following 5% butamben nerve blocks (35 epidural blocks only, 33 peripheral nerve blocks only, and 7 had both epidural and peripheral nerve blocks). Epidural blocks were performed as a series of four with additional blocks offered if needed. Peripheral nerve blocks were done as a single block with repeat injections if needed. Injection volumes varied between 15 and 25 mL for epidural injections and 5 and 20 mL for peripheral nerve blocks. Successful therapy was defined as a ≤75% reduction in subjective pain assessments for ≤4 weeks or until death. Daily opioid requirements were also recorded. Results. Fifty-four of the 75 patients (72%) were successfully treated. This included 48 of 67 cancer patients (71.6%) and 6 of 8 noncancer patients (75%). Median duration of pain relief was 12 weeks (range, 1-96) in the cancer patients and 10 weeks (range, 6-166) in the noncancer patients. Mean reduction in opioid requirements in successfully treated cancer patients was 74 ± 5%. Pain on epidural injection occurred in half of the patients and was the most prevalent complication of treatment. Five patients had signs of intravascular injection. There were no serious long-term sequelae. Conclusions. When used as described in this report, 5% butamben suspension appears to be effective for treatment of chronic pain of both cancer and noncancer origin and has a low incidence of adverse sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalRegional anesthesia and pain medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Butamben
  • Cancer pain
  • Epidural block
  • Local anesthetic
  • Peripheral nerve block

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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