New topical pain cream, Maxilene, eases procedural pain

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Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) have found that a new topical anaesthetic (liposomal lidocaine 4% cream, brand name Maxilene) effectively reduced pain for children having IVs inserted (cannulation) in the emergency department and improved procedural success rates.

This research is reported in the June 21, 2005 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

"Children and parents often cite procedural pain as the most distressing part of their child's hospitalization. Previous studies have shown that topical local anaesthetics can decrease pain, but there was concern that they could interfere with the ability of health-care providers to perform the procedures themselves, leading to an increase in the overall number of procedures and therefore more pain," said Dr. Anna Taddio, the study's lead author and principal investigator, a Sick Kids scientist and pharmacist, and an assistant professor of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto.

"In this study, we showed that the topical local anaesthetic liposomal lidocaine not only decreased pain during IV cannulation, but actually facilitated the procedure," Dr. Taddio added. "Based on these results, we would recommend implementing its use as a routine part of every cannulation procedure. Not only will children benefit from less pain and less procedures, but children, their parents and health-care workers will have less stress during procedures as well."

The study was a double-blind randomized control trial in the Sick Kids Emergency Department, where children aged one month to 17 years who required an IV insertion received either the liposomal lidocaine cream or a placebo before the procedure. IVs were successfully inserted on first attempt in 74 per cent of the children who received the liposomal lidocaine, and in 55 per cent of those who received the placebo. Lower pain scores were also reported for the group who received the liposomal lidocaine cream.

Other members of the research team included Dr. Dennis Scolnik, Dr. Gideon Koren, Dr. Suzanne Schuh and Herpreet Kaur Soin, all from Sick Kids.

This research was supported by Sick Kids Foundation, a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award to Dr. Taddio and a CIHR Senior Investigator Award to Dr. Koren. Ferndale Laboratories provided liposomal lidocaine and placebo study medications. The Canadian distributor of liposomal lidocaine, RGR Pharma, also provided funding for the pharmacy dispensing costs. and


  1. Cheryl Cheryl Canada says:

    A while ago my 3 month son had to under go several tests before his kidney surgery. This is 2 years ago. When did this topical cream Maxilene become available to use at Sick Kids hospial? His tests were agonizing physically and emotionally because they took several attempts to actually get an IV him.

    • T T Canada says:

      We had the same, unfortunate experience. I found out through reading a pamphlet from the hospital library that Maxilene might be a good cream to use prior to bloodwork. When I asked the nurse about it, she said it was available at the "nurse's discretion" to use and gave me a few tubes to "try and see if it makes a difference." Sadly, most people don't know about this. This medication is available over the counter (Sick Kids pharmacy does carry it - ask the pharmacist), but don't confuse it with Emla, which, as I understand, causes the veins to pull away from the surface of the skin. Maxilene is good for IVs, bloodwork, vaccinations, etc for adults and children. Strangely, the lab didn't really encourage us to use it, either, but we put it on anyhow. In your specific case, your son's age might have been an issue, being so young. That's also the good news because as traumatic as these things are (and I don't advocate making things more difficult than they should be), the children aren't going to remember them at such a young age.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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