BACKGROUND: As an alternative to current methods of local nerve block, we studied the feasibility of producing ankle block in the rat with IV injection of magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) associated with ropivacaine and application of a magnet at the ankle.
METHODS: The anesthetic effect of magnet-directed ropivacaine-associated MNPs (MNP/Ropiv) was tested in the rat using paw withdrawal latencies from thermal stimuli applied to the hindpaw. The MNP/Ropiv complexes consisted of 0.7% w/v ropivacaine and 0.8% w/v MNPs containing 12% w/w magnetite (Fe3O4). The effect of IV injection of MNP/Ropiv with 15, 30, and 60-minute magnet application to the right ankle was compared with the effect without magnet application on the left hindpaw, to conventional ankle block with 0.1% or 0.2% ropivacaine, and to IV injection of MNPs alone with 30-minute magnet application to the right ankle. In addition, the pharmacokinetics of the MNP/Ropiv complexes were determined.
RESULTS: IV injection of MNP/Ropiv with magnet application at the ankle significantly increased paw withdrawal latencies from thermal stimuli compared with pretreatment baselines in the same paw (P < 0.0001) and compared with the contralateral paw without magnet application (P < 0.0001). IV injection of MNPs alone had no significant effect on paw withdrawal latency. Absolute ropivacaine concentrations in ankle tissue, and ankle tissue-to-plasma concentration ratios were higher in the MNP/Ropiv group with 30-minute magnet application compared with MNP/Ropiv group without magnet application (mean ± SEM, 150 ± 10 ng/g vs 105 ± 15 ng/g, respectively, and 6.1 ± 0.8 vs 4.2 ± 0.7, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: The current study establishes proof of principle that it is possible to produce ankle block in the rat by IV injection of MNP/Ropiv complexes and magnet application at the ankle. The results indicate that further study of this approach is warranted.