Liposomal lidocaine to improve procedural success rates and reduce procedural pain among children: a randomized controlled trial

CMAJ. 2005 Jun 21;172(13):1691-5. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.045316.


Background: Historically, children have been undertreated for their pain, and they continue to undergo painful cutaneous procedures without analgesics. A new topical anesthetic, liposomal lidocaine 4% cream (Maxilene, RGR Pharma, Windsor, Ont.), has become available. It has pharmacologic properties that are superior to other topical anesthetics, including an onset of action of only 30 minutes. We sought to determine the success rate of cannulation, analgesic effectiveness, procedure duration and rate of adverse skin reactions when liposomal lidocaine is used before intravenous cannulation of children.

Methods: In this double-blind randomized controlled trial, children aged 1 month to 17 years received liposomal lidocaine or placebo before cannulation. Success on first cannulation attempt was recorded, and, among children 5 years and older, pain was evaluated before and after the attempt by the child, parents and research assistant using a validated measure (Faces Pain Scale-Revised). For children younger than 5 years, pain was evaluated by the parents and research assistant only. The total duration of the procedure and adverse skin reactions were also recorded.

Results: Baseline characteristics did not differ (p > 0.05) between children who received liposomal lidocaine (n = 69) and those who received placebo (n = 73). Cannulation on the first attempt was achieved in 74% of children who received liposomal lidocaine compared with 55% of those who received placebo (p = 0.03). Among children 5 years of age and older (n = 67), lower mean pain scores during cannulation were reported by those receiving liposomal lidocaine (p = 0.01). Similarly, lower mean pain scores during cannulation were reported by the parents and research assistant for all children who received liposomal lidocaine than for all those who received placebo (p < 0.001). The mean total procedure duration was shorter with liposomal lidocaine (6.7 v. 8.5 minutes; p = 0.04). The incidence of transient dermal changes was 23% in both groups (p = 1.0).

Conclusions: Use of liposomal lidocaine was associated with a higher intravenous cannulation success rate, less pain, shorter total procedure time and minor dermal changes among children undergoing cannulation. Its routine use for painful cutaneous procedures should be considered whenever feasible.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, Local*
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Liposomes
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Ointments
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Liposomes
  • Ointments
  • Lidocaine