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Am Fam Physician. 2002 Jul 1;66(1):99-102.

Principles of office anesthesia: part II. Topical anesthesia.

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1
Scripps Clinic, San Diego, California, USA.

Abstract

The development of topical anesthetics has provided the family physician with multiple options in anesthetizing open and intact skin. The combination of tetracaine, adrenaline (epinephrine), and cocaine, better known as TAC, was the first topical agent available for analgesia of lacerations to the face and scalp. Cocaine has been replaced with lidocaine in a newer formulation called LET (lidocaine, epinephrine, and tetracaine). For analgesia to nonintact skin, LET gel is generally preferred over TAC because of its superior safety record and cost-effectiveness. EMLA (eutectic mixture of local anesthetics) is perhaps the most well-known topical anesthetic for use on intact skin. EMLA can be used to anesthetize the skin before intramuscular injections, venipuncture, and simple skin procedures such as curettage or biopsy. To be fully effective, EMLA should be applied at least 90 minutes before the procedure. ELA-Max is a new, rapidly acting topical agent for intact skin that works by way of a liposomal delivery system and is available over the counter. Other delivery vehicles for topical anesthesia currently in development, including iontophoresis and anesthetic patches, may one day give patients and physicians even more flexibility.

PMID:
12126037
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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