What is the best topical anesthetic for nasogastric insertion? A comparison of lidocaine gel, lidocaine spray, and atomized cocaine
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INTRODUCTION: Nasogastric intubation has been shown to be a painful procedure for patients. Previous studies have demonstrated the benefit of topical nasal anesthesia in decreasing the pain of this procedure. This study attempts to identify which of 3 topical anesthetic modalities would be preferred by patients. METHODS: This study had a double-blind, double-dummy randomized triple crossover design with 30 healthy volunteers as participants. Each participant had 3 nasogastric tubes inserted and acted as his or her own control for the 3 study medications: 1.5 mL 4% atomized lidocaine, 1.5 mL 4% atomized cocaine, and 5 mL 2% lidocaine gel. Participants scored pain of tube passage through the nostril as well as global discomfort. They were also asked to identify which agent they preferred. RESULTS: In our 30 subjects, although no statistically significant difference in nasal pain scores was found, "global discomfort" was less with the lidocaine gel (P =.017). Participants preferred the lidocaine gel over atomized cocaine (P <.00), but not to a statistically significant degree. DISCUSSION: Two percent lidocaine gel appeared to provide the best option for a topical anesthetic during nasogastric tube insertion.