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Accid Emerg Nurs. 2004 Apr;12(2):74-84.

The use of topical anaesthesia at children's minor lacerations: an experimental study.

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Borås University College, School of Health Sciences, Kunskapscentrum PreHospen, Borås 501 90, Sweden.



In a great many situations within health care and treatment, children are subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering. When local anaesthetics is to be administered the child can experience this as incomprehensible especially when the nursing staff assures the child that no pain would be felt, only to discover soon after, that it actually did hurt at the moment of anaesthetic infiltration. The soothing of pain during the suturing of wounds in emergency wards can be reduced, ensuring that unnecessary pain in the cafe-and-treatment process is mot meted out to children. In order to prevent this (subjection to unnecessary pain), and by improving accepted practice, it was interesting to investigate whether children felt pain at the time of infiltration anaesthesia following the initial topical anaesthesia.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of introductory topical anaesthesia using Xylocain solution dropped in the wound prior to a definitive infiltration-anaesthesia. An experimental, prospective design was used where children were included in either an experimental group or a control group. The experimental group (n=10) were given a Xylocain solution while the control group (n=10) received physiological Sodium solution. Data collection for the study was made by making VAS estimates and by interviews.


The study shows that a certain alleviation of pain does occur when using Xylocain but no statistically significant difference exists between the two groups. Irrespective of whether the children received an introductory topical anaesthesia with Xylocain or Sodium solution at the time of infiltration anaesthesia, they expressed pain in connection with infiltration. The study also shows that many children express fear and anxiety.


Current research highlights the difficulties involved in offering children a really satisfactory form of pain relief in connection with infiltration anaesthesia and suturing of wounds. It is urgent to throw more light on children's pain, both from a nursing and from a medical point of view. No statistically significant difference was found in children's reported pain, after treatment with Xylocain but the solution can have a positive effect at the time of the infiltration jab, but a larger study needs to be done in order to establish this firmly.

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