EMLA cream on the ears--is it effective? A prospective, randomised controlled trial of the efficacy of topical anaesthetic cream in reducing the pain of local anaesthetic infiltration for prominent ear correction

Br J Plast Surg. 1995 Apr;48(3):150-3. doi: 10.1016/0007-1226(95)90146-9.


A prospective, randomised, double blind trial was carried out to test whether or not the application of topical anaesthetic cream (EMLA cream) before infiltration of local anaesthetic would decrease the discomfort of correction of prominent ears under local anaesthetic. 23 patients were entered into the trial. They acted as their own controls, one ear having EMLA cream applied approximately 2 h prior to surgery, and the other Aqueous cream. Immediately after surgery, the patients were asked to complete two scales describing the amount of pain they had felt in each ear, both at the time of injection of local anaesthetic and during the surgery. They were also asked whether they thought the inconvenience associated with the use of the EMLA cream was worth any improvement they felt. The results showed that, compared to the placebo cream, EMLA cream significantly decreased the pain felt both at the time of injection (p < 0.005) and during the surgery (p < 0.01). However, only 62% of patients asked felt that the inconvenience associated with the use of EMLA cream was worth the benefits that it conveyed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ear, External / abnormalities*
  • Ear, External / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Lidocaine, Prilocaine Drug Combination
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prilocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Drug Combinations
  • Lidocaine, Prilocaine Drug Combination
  • Prilocaine
  • Lidocaine