To determine whether pretreatment of skin with erbium:YAG (Er:YAG) laser-assisted delivery facilitates the penetration of lidocaine cream to provide anesthesia suitable for needlesticks after just 5 minutes.
Trial 1 was a double-blind randomized controlled trial, whereas trial 2 was a nonblinded randomized controlled trial.
The study was conducted in 2 facilities, an academic and a private clinical research unit.
A total of 320 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 65 years and of any Fitzpatrick skin phototype.
Trial 1 involved an Er:YAG laser pretreatment to disrupt the stratum corneum followed by an application of 4% lidocaine cream on one arm, and a laser pretreatment plus placebo on the other arm. Trial 2 involved an application of 4% lidocaine cream alone on one arm, and a laser pretreatment followed by an application of 4% lidocaine cream on the other arm.
Main Outcome Measure
Self-reported pain perception on a 100-mm visual analog scale after quick insertion and removal of a 25-gauge hypodermic needle on the treatment sites.
Data from the 2 trials showed that there was a 62% pain reduction with laser pretreatment plus lidocaine compared with laser pretreatment plus placebo, and a 61% pain reduction with laser pretreatment plus lidocaine, compared with lidocaine alone. The decrease in pain in both trials was statistically significant (P<.001). Adverse events reported 48 hours after treatment were few and mild.
Treatment with the Er:YAG laser followed by lidocaine cream is a safe, effective, and efficient means of inducing skin anesthesia that significantly reduces the pain of hypodermic needle insertion.