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Pediatrics. 2017 Dec;140(6). pii: e20171935. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-1935. Epub 2017 Nov 17.

Combination Analgesia for Neonatal Circumcision: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

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Departments of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and.
Surgery, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon



There is no consensus on the most effective pain management for neonatal circumcision. We sought to compare different modalities.


This is a double-blinded randomized controlled trial comparing 3 combination analgesics used during circumcision (EMLA + sucrose; EMLA + sucrose + dorsal penile nerve block [DPNB]; EMLA + sucrose + ring block [RB]) with the traditional topical analgesic cream EMLA alone. The trial was set in the normal nursery of a teaching hospital. The sample included 70 healthy male newborns, randomly assigned to intervention and control groups at a 2:1 ratio. Infants were videotaped (face and torso) during the procedure for assessment of pain by 2 blinded, independent reviewers. The primary outcome measure is the Neonatal Infant Pain Scale score. Secondary outcomes include heart rate, oxygen saturation, and crying time.


Neonatal Infant Pain Scale scores were significantly lower in the intervention groups (EMLA + sucrose, mean [SD]: 3.1 [1.33]; EMLA + sucrose + DPNB: 3 [1.33]; EMLA + sucrose + RB: 2.45 [1.27]) compared with the control (5.5 [0.53]). Between-group analyses showed RB + EMLA + sucrose to be significantly more effective than EMLA + sucrose; EMLA + sucrose + DPNB (P = .009 and P = .002, respectively). Interrater reliability was κ = 0.843. Significant increase in heart rate (139.27 [9.63] to 163 [13.23] beats per minute) and crying time (5.78 [6.4] to 45.37 [12.39] seconds) were noted in the EMLA group.


During neonatal circumcision in boys, the most effective analgesia is RB combined with oral sucrose and EMLA cream.

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