Cold, vibrating device works like lidocaine, but faster

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topical lidocaine

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A cold pack and a vibrating device reduces a child’s pain that comes with IV insertion during emergency room visits just as well as topical lidocaine but quicker, according to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researchers.

The vibrating cold device can be used quickly, while lidocaine usually needs 30 minutes to take effect. It is battery-powered and reusable.

“This is the first study to compare a vibrating cold device to topical lidocaine in reducing the pain and distress experienced by children during IV insertion,” said Debra A. Potts, the leader on the study and nurse manager in the emergency medicine department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This is important because hospitalized children experience IV insertion as a very painful and stressful event, and they can have post-traumatic stress symptoms if their pain is not adequately controlled.”

The study had 251 child participants who were anywhere between the ages of 4 to 18 years old. All of the patients were treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia emergency department and were accompanied by a parent or guardian. The patients were separated into two groups – one receiving lidocaine and one receiving the vibrating cold device.

Reports showed that there were no significant differences in pain and anxiety between the vibrating cold device group and the lidocaine group. Nurses also reported being highly satisfied with both pain control methods during IV insertion.

The study also reported that it took a much shorter amount of time for the vibrating cold device to take effect than lidocaine.

“We anticipate that using this device would enable nurses to insert an IV with little pain for the child at least 30 minutes sooner than using topical lidocaine,” said Potts.

Potts suggests that a larger study still needs to be completed to further evaluate the use of the device.

The study was supported by the Stefan Maar Memorial Fund and the Center for Pediatric Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice. It was published in the printed version of the journal Pediatric Emergency Care.

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