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Pediatr Emerg Care. 1989 Dec;5(4):211-5.

Influence of topical anesthesia on the sedation of pediatric emergency department patients with lacerations.

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Department of Critical Care, SUNY Health Sciences Center 13210.


Local anesthetic infiltration of wounds causes pain which distresses children. A painless topical anesthetic solution containing tetracaine, adrenaline, and cocaine (TAC) may reduce this distress. We hypothesized that the use of TAC for anesthesia may reduce the utilization of sedation for laceration repair. We performed a retrospective review of all pediatric emergency department (PED) patients receiving parenteral meperidine, promethazine, and chlorpromazine (DPT) during the period after TAC became routinely available. For comparison, data from a recent retrospective study of DPT (preTAC) use in the same PED were used. There was a reduction in the percent of total PED patients receiving DPT, from 1.7% preTAC to 1.2% during the TAC period (P less than 0.05). During the TAC period, there were no significant changes in patient volume or case-mix indicators. Of the major indications for DPT, there was no significant change in the percent receiving DPT for fractures, abscesses, burns, foreign body removal, or head injuries. However, there was a significant reduction in the percent of patients with lacerations receiving DPT during the experimental period, from 12% to 7.6% (P less than 0.05). There were no significant differences in laceration frequency (119/mo and 116/mo), length (2.7 and 2.7 cm), location (85% and 93% total for face and digits), or complexity (64% and 63%) for preTAC and TAC periods, respectively. We conclude that TAC used for local anesthesia may reduce the need for sedation in PED patients with lacerations that require suturing.

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