Does Topical Lidocaine Reduce the Pain Associated With the Insertion of Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Prongs in Preterm Infants?: A Randomized, Controlled Pilot Trial

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To evaluate the efficacy of topical lidocaine 2% gel in reducing the pain associated with the insertion of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) prongs in preterm infants.

Materials and Methods:

A pilot randomized controlled trial. Sixty preterm infants, categorized into lidocaine (n=30) and control groups (n=30). The primary outcome was Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) score, secondary outcomes included salivary cortisol, presence of cry, the duration of first cry, and adverse effects of lidocaine.


There were no statistically significant differences between lidocaine and control groups regarding PIPP scores (mean±SD: 7.2±2.3 vs. 9.3±3.0, respectively, P=0.086). None of the infants in the lidocaine group had severe pain defined as a PIPP score>12, compared with 3 (10%) infants in the control group (P=0.056). Salivary cortisol concentrations were not significantly different between the lidocaine and control groups (mean±SD: 2.57±1.79 vs. 4.82±1.61 μg/dL, respectively, P=0.11). Standardized effect sizes for topical lidocaine were medium to large for reduction in PIPP scores and large for reduction in salivary cortisol (Cohen d=−0.78 and −1.32, respectively). No adverse effects were reported in infants receiving lidocaine.


Our data suggest that topical lidocaine did not reduce the pain associated with the insertion of nCPAP prongs in preterm infants. However, the trends for lower PIPP scores in the lidocaine group and the effect sizes for lidocaine on PIPP scores and salivary cortisol were large enough so that a large-scale randomized clinical trial is warranted to confirm or refute our results. Such a study should compare 2 or more active pain interventions during nCPAP application, rather than evaluating a single intervention versus placebo or no treatment.

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