Needle-free device delivers pain-free analgesia

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new needle-free device that delivers a local anesthetic to the skin promises to help make delivering drugs and drawing blood less painful for children.

The system involves a sterile, prefilled, disposable device that dispenses lidocaine powder into the epidermis, the cells that make up the outer layer of the skin, lead author Dr. William T. Kempsky, from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, and colleagues explain.

In the study, investigators randomly assigned a group of children to the powder lidocaine system or to a sham placebo system 1 to 3 minutes before a procedure known as venipuncture, during which a small needle is inserted into a vein in the back of the hand to collect blood, or a procedure called venous cannulation, which is used to drain blood or fluid or administer medications.

The use of the lidocaine system provided rapid and significant analgesia relative to the sham system, based on standard pain scale scores.

Parental ratings of pain were also significantly lower with the lidocaine system, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

The study, which involved nearly 600 children, confirms what was seen in smaller studies.

“The convenience and rapid effect of the needle-free powder lidocaine delivery system may make it more likely that children will receive local anesthesia” for these types of procedures, “as recommended by guidelines,” the investigators conclude.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, May 2008.