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Reducing Postnatal Pain from Perineal Tears by Using Lignocaine Gel: A Double-Blind Randomized Trial

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Background:Perineal pain is one of the most common causes of maternal morbidity in the early puerperium.Several randomized trials have shown that topical application of local anesthetics is effective in reducing postepisiotomy pain, but no randomized study has assessed the efficacy of local anesthetics for other perineal trauma. This study investigated if topically applied 2 percent lignocaine gel was an effective treatment for this group of women.Methods:A double-blind placebo controlled trial was conducted in a regional teaching hospital in the northwest of England. One hundred and forty-nine women who had sustained a first- or second-degree tear were allocated by sealed envelopes to the lignocaine gel or placebo group. The primary outcome was self-reported pain at 24 hours postdelivery as measured on a numerical rating scale (pain score). Secondary outcomes included pain scores at 48 hours, the need for oral analgesia, and maternal satisfaction. Based on a pilot study, we calculated that 128 women were required to detect a 25 percent difference in pain scores between the two groups with 80 percent power (alpha = 0.05). The pain scores of women in each trial arm were compared using the unpaired t test and 95 percent confidence intervals.Results:Women using lignocaine gel had lower average pain scores, although this only reached statistical significance at 48 hours after delivery (p =0.023). In general, women liked using the study gel. No difference was found in consumption of oral analgesia.Conclusions:This study suggested that lignocaine gel may be effective on the second postnatal day. Further research is required to assess the optimum timing of this intervention and the population that would most benefit from its use. (BIRTH 28:1 March 2001)

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1523-536x.2001.00022.x

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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