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Lidocaine/tetracaine patch (Rapydan) for topical anaesthesia before arterial access: a double-blind, randomized trial.

BACKGROUND: Arterial catheterization is painful and is associated with patient stress and anxiety. Analgesia is usually provided by subcutaneous injection of local anaesthetic. An alternative is topical anaesthesia, such as Rapydan which is a novel topical anaesthetic patch containing 70 mg each of lidocaine and tetracaine. We therefore tested the hypothesis that Rapydan patch analgesia is non-inferior to subcutaneous local anaesthetic.

METHODS: Ninety patients undergoing elective major cardiac surgery were included in this prospective, double-blind clinical trial. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either a lidocaine/tetracaine patch, followed by subcutaneous injection 0.5 ml of normal saline solution, or placebo patch with subsequent subcutaneous injection of 0.5 ml of lidocaine 1%. Pain during arterial catheterization using 100-mm-long visual analogue scale (VAS) was the primary outcome. Other outcomes were pain during anaesthetic/saline injection and plasma tetracaine concentrations.

RESULTS: VAS pain scores during arterial puncture were comparable in both groups and Rapydan was non-inferior to subcutaneous lidocaine. Pain scores at the time of subcutaneous injection were significantly lower (better) in patients assigned to the lidocaine/tetracaine patch than to lidocaine (P=0.001). Plasma tetracaine concentrations never exceeded the detection limit of 25 ng ml(-1) at any time in any patient.

CONCLUSIONS: Both the lidocaine/tetracaine patch and subcutaneous injection of lidocaine provided comparable pain control during arterial catheter insertion. Subcutaneous lidocaine caused discomfort during injection, whereas the lidocaine/tetracaine patch required placement 20 min before the procedure. Given adequate time, the patch provided better overall analgesia by obviating the need for subcutaneous infiltration.

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