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Percutaneous regional compared with local anaesthesia for facial lacerations: a randomised controlled trial
  1. V Tarsia,
  2. A J Singer,
  3. G A Cassara,
  4. M T Hein
  1. Department of Emergency Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A Singer
 Stony Brook University, Stony Brook University Medical Center, HSC L4-080, Stony Brook, 11794-8350, USA;


Objective: Facial lacerations are usually repaired after local infiltration of an anaesthetic agent. Regional nerve blocks of the face offer several theoretical advantages over local infiltration. This study compared the pain of injection and anaesthetic efficacy of percutaneous regional and local anaesthesia for facial lacerations.

Study design: Randomised clinical trial.

Participants: Convenience sample of emergency department patients with facial lacerations requiring suturing in anatomical areas innervated by a regional nerve (supraorbital, infraorbital, or mental).

Interventions: Facial lacerations treated using standard wound care. Lacerations were randomised to local or regional infiltration of lidocaine (lignocaine) 1% with adrenaline (epinephrine) 1:100 000 using a number 27 needle.

Outcomes: Pain of injection on 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS) and need for rescue anaesthetic infiltration before suturing.

Data analysis: Group comparisons were with Student’s t test and χ2 test. This study had 80% power to detect a 20 mm difference in pain of injection (two tailed, α = 0.05).

Results: 36 patients were randomised to local (18) and regional (18) anaesthesia. Mean (SD) age was 20 (14); 19% were female. Groups were similar in baseline characteristics. Patients in the regional anaesthesia group experienced more pain during infiltration than patients in the local anaesthesia group (42.4 mm v 24.8 mm, mean difference 17.6 mm (95% CI 0.3 to 35.6 mm) and were more likely to require additional infiltration of a local anaesthetic (28% v 0%, (95% CI 6% to 50%)) than patients in the local anaesthetic group.

Conclusions: Local infiltration of anaesthetics for facial lacerations is less painful and results in more effective anaesthesia than percutaneous regional infiltration.

  • ED, emergency department
  • IO, infraorbital
  • MN, mental nerve
  • SO, supraorbital
  • VAS, visual analogue scale

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

  • Presented at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Annual Meeting, May 2002, St Louis, USA

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