Optimising Local Anaesthetic Administration

Providing adequate analgesia to patients prior to performing procedures is not only beneficial to patient, but also aids the clinician. Importantly, the patient's experience of the entire process will often determine how happy they feel about the eventual outcome. Often the most painful part of the procedure in community and emergency department settings will be the infiltration of the local anaesthetic.

With infiltrating local anaesthetic there are a number of tips, tricks and steps that you can take to simplify the process and minimise the pain. I have sourced this advice from my fellow clinicians, the literature and across the web. If you have any tips please feel free to share them in the comments section below. This is an adjunct post to the Basic Guide to Suturing Series.

So here is the quick users guide to reducing the pain of and improving your local anaesthetic administration.

Dose Correctly

Getting the right dose either using the traditional calculations or this handy little dosing nomogram - http://www.aliem.com/pv-card-local-anesthetic-toxicity-calculations/
And from the literature http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/anae.12679/full

IBW Calculator - http://www.mdcalc.com/ideal-body-weight/#about-calculator

Onset (min) Duration (min) Max dose (mg/kg) Max mg (70kg person)
Lignocaine (1% or 2%)
2 15-60 3mg/kg 220mg
(11mL 2%)
(22mL 1%)
Lignocaine with adrenaline
(1% or 2%)
2 120-360 7mg/kg 500mg
(25mL 2%)
(50mL 1%)
Bupivicaine (0.25%)
5 120-240 2.5mg/kg 175mg(50mL)
Bupivicaine with adrenaline 5 180-420 3mg/kg 225mg
Prilocaine (0.5% or 1%)
2 30-90 7mg/kg 500mg<70kg 1="" ml="" td="">
Ropivocaine (0.25%)
5 120-360 3mg/kg 225mg

Solution preparation for minimal pain

Appropriate dosing
Buffer with sodium bicarbonate(e.g. 1mL of 8.4% sodium bicarbonate to 9 mL of 1% lignocaine.)
Warm the LA


Smallest needle
Longer needle: requiring fewer injection points to cover the same area
Consider using a diabetic needle for first infiltration
Use fresh needles (i.e. sharper needles)
Appropriate syringe size (less pressure, and less likely to overdose)

Patient preparation

Look away
Distraction (e.g. smartphones, music, tv)
Gentle pinching or vibration adjacent to the site of injection

Paediatric Population

Use 1% for paeds patients.
Play specialist
Topical Analgesia
- ALA (Laceraine): a combination of 0.5% amethocaine, 4% lignocaine and 0.1% adrenaline
- EMLA is non-sterile and not approved for application to broken skin
Consider other options; e.g. gas, procedural sedation etc.

Further reading;
RCEM: Paediatric Wound Management
LITFL: Kids, Cuts and Clinical Care


Topical Anaesthetic
Inject into Subcutaneous Fat if There Is an Open Wound
Infiltrate through wound edges, rather than unbroken skin (clean wound)
Stabilise the Syringe Holding Hand to Minimise Needle Movement
Inject Very Slowly
Keep the Local Anaesthetic Wheal 10 mm ahead of the Needle Tip
Decrease number of insertions
Use smallest volume necessary

Get feedback from your patients

Getting feedback from your patients can help learn what works and what does not when administering local anaesthetic, to give the patient the most ideal experience.

References/Further Reading