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Over-the-counter anesthetic gel puts the squeeze on mammogram pain
Date:7/21/2008

researchers recruited 418 women, ages 32 to 89, who expected significant discomfort with screening mammography. Fifty-four of the women reported that they had probably or definitely delayed their mammograms due to concern over possible discomfort.

The women were randomized to receive placebos or pre-medication with acetaminophen, ibuprofen and/or a local anesthetic gel followed by mammography screening. The gel was applied to the skin of the breasts and chest wall and then removed 30 to 65 minutes before mammography. The gel had no effect on subsequent image quality.

The results showed that oral medication produced no significant differences in breast discomfort, nor did other factors such as breast density. However, women who received a topical application of 4 percent lidocaine gel reported significantly less breast discomfort during mammography.

"We designed this study around safe and available over-the-counter products in order to put women more in control, so they may have a more comfortable and satisfactory experience," Lambertz said.

Eighty-eight percent of study participants indicated they would definitely get a mammogram the following year, and 10 percent said they would probably get a mammogram the following year.

Lidocaine gel is a readily available, over-the-counter anesthetic that is easy to apply and remove. For the study, the gel was applied by the attending nurse; however, women could apply the gel at home one hour prior to appointment time and remove it right before undergoing the exam.

"Women can now take charge of the situation," Lambertz said. "They can schedule a mammography appointment for a time in their cycle when their breasts are least tender, apply the gel at home and drive to the appointment knowing they have taken steps toward a positive experience with this potentially life-saving procedure."


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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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