Clinical data
Trade names Pontocaine, Ametop, Dicaine
AHFS/Drugs.com Monograph
MedlinePlus a682640
Routes of
Topical, epidural, spinal
ATC code C05AD02 (WHO) D04AB06 (WHO) N01BA03 (WHO) S01HA03 (WHO)
Legal status
Legal status
  • ℞ (Prescription only)
Pharmacokinetic data
Protein binding 75.6
CAS Number 94-24-6 YesY
136-47-0 (hydrochloride)
PubChem (CID) 5411
ChemSpider 5218 YesY
UNII 0619F35CGV YesY
KEGG D00551 YesY
PDB ligand ID TE4 (PDBe, RCSB PDB)
ECHA InfoCard 100.002.106
Chemical and physical data
Formula C15H24N2O2
Molar mass 264.363 g/mol
3D model (Jmol) Interactive image

Tetracaine (also known as amethocaine) is a local anesthetic of the ester anesthetic group. It is mainly used topically in ophthalmology and as an antipruritic, and it has been used in spinal anesthesia.

In biomedical research, tetracaine is used to alter the function of calcium release channels (ryanodine receptors) that control the release of calcium from intracellular stores. Tetracaine is an allosteric blocker of channel function. At low concentrations, tetracaine causes an initial inhibition of spontaneous calcium release events, while at high concentrations, tetracaine blocks release completely.[1]

Tetracaine is the T in TAC, a mixture of 5 to 12% tetracaine, 0.05% adrenaline, and 4 or 10% cocaine hydrochloride used in ear, nose, and throat surgery and in the emergency department where numbing of the surface is needed rapidly, especially when children have been injured in the eye, ear, or other sensitive locations.[2]

It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[3]

A systematic review investigated tetracaine for use in emergency departments, especially for intravenous cannulation in children, in view of its analgesic and cost-saving properties. However, it did not find an improvement in first-attempt cannulations.[4]


  1. Györke, S; Lukyanenko, V; et al. (1997). "Dual effects of tetracaine on spontaneous sodium release in rat ventricular myocytes". 500 (2). J Physiol: 297309.
  2. Appleton's Nursing Manual - "Cocaine"
  3. "WHO Model List of EssentialMedicines" (PDF). World Health Organization. October 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  4. Pywell, A; Xyrichis, A (2014). "Does topical Amethocaine cream increase first-time successful cannulation in children compared with a eutectic mixture of local anaesthetics (EMLA) cream? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials". 0 (0). Emerg Med J: 15. doi:10.1136/emermed-2014-204066.

Further reading

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