Objective. To compare the efficacy of the dorsal penile nerve block (DPNB) with a less invasive form of local anesthesia, eutectic mixture of local anesthetic (EMLA) cream, for reduction of pain during neonatal circumcision.
Design. Prospective, blinded, randomized, controlled trial.
Setting. Tertiary referral, neonatal intensive care nursery in a university teaching hospital.
Patients. Fifty infants ≥34½ weeks postmenstrual age and stable for discharge at time of circumcision; gestational age at birth 25 to 41 weeks; birth weight 600 to 4390 g; age at study 3 to 105 days. An additional cohort of term newborns (n = 20), who were not randomized, were circumcised without anesthesia.
Interventions. Administration of either EMLA cream (0.5 g topically 1 hour before circumcision) or 1% lidocaine (0.7–1.0 mL subcutaneously 3 minutes before circumcision).
Outcome Measures. Primary: Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS) score; secondary: heart rate, respiratory rate. All outcome measures were assessed by an individual who was blinded to the group assignment and did not perform the circumcision.
Results. NIPS scores were significantly lower in the DPNB infants (2.3 ± 1.8) compared with the EMLA infants (4.8 ± 0.7). NIPS scores in patients circumcised without anesthesia indicated severe pain. There was a significantly greater increase in heart rate over the duration of the circumcision in the EMLA group than in the DPNB group (49 vs 9 beats per minute). Adverse effects included small hematomas at the site of injection in DPNB infants (10/23), mild erythema at 1 and/or 24 hours after circumcision in the EMLA infants (3/21), and penile edema noted 5 days after circumcision requiring removal of the circumcision bell in 1 DPNB infant.
Conclusions. DPNB provides better pain reduction during neonatal circumcision than EMLA cream. EMLA cream may provide pain reduction compared with no anesthesia during neonatal circumcision.
- Received September 15, 1997.
- Accepted December 8, 1997.
- Copyright © 1998 American Academy of Pediatrics