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Effectiveness of various formulations of local anesthetics and additives for topical anesthesia – a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Authors Weilbach C, Hoppe C, Karst M, Winterhalter M, Raymondos K, Schultz A, Rahe-Meyer N

Received 24 December 2016

Accepted for publication 22 February 2017

Published 10 May 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 1105—1109


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Christian Weilbach,1 Christian Hoppe,2 Matthias Karst,3 Michael Winterhalter,4 Konstantinos Raymondos,3 Arthur Schultz,3 Niels Rahe-Meyer2

1Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Pain Therapy, St. Josefs-Hospital Cloppenburg, Cloppenburg, 2Clinic for Anesthesiology and Operational Intensive Care, Franziskus Hospital Bielefeld, Bielefeld, 3Clinic for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, 4Clinic for Anesthesiology and Pain Therapy, Klinikum Bremen-Mitte, Bremen, Germany

Background: Topical anesthesia is used to control pain associated with many procedures in medicine. Today, the product most commonly applied for topical anesthesia in Germany is EMLA® (lidocaine/prilocaine). However, since prilocaine is a methemoglobin-inducing agent, there are limitations to its use, especially in neonates and infants. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of prilocaine and lidocaine as well as propylene glycol, a penetration enhancer, and trometamol, a buffer substance, in anesthetic creams.
Patients and methods: Twenty-nine healthy adults participated in this study. Standardized creams with eight different compositions were applied and left for 20, 40 or 60 min. After exposure to standardized painful stimuli (blunt/sharp with pressures of 0.2, 0.4 or 0.8 N), subjects rated the experimental pain using a visual analog scale.
Results: Significant results were only found with an exposure time of 60 min and a stamp pressure of 0.8 N. At a concentration of 20%, lidocaine was more effective compared to placebo and equally effective compared to lidocaine/prilocaine in controlling pain. The analgesic effect of the cream containing lidocaine 10% and additional trometamol was significantly superior to that of placebo and non-inferior to that of lidocaine/prilocaine. In this study, the penetration enhancer propylene glycol did not accelerate the onset of the analgesic effect. In contrast, the addition of trometamol (Tris/THAM) accelerated the onset of the effect compared to the native formulation (at 0.4 and 0.8 N). In all of the adult subjects of this study, the minimum exposure time was 60 min for any of the tested topical anesthetic creams.
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that a cream containing 20% lidocaine, 38% trometamol and 10% propylene glycol may be used as an alternative to lidocaine/prilocaine with a comparable effect and without the need to extend exposure time.

Keywords: local anesthetics, topical anesthesia, EMLA®, topical anesthetic cream, lidocaine, prilocaine

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