March 8, 2009

Topical Gel May Reduce Discomfort with Mammography


Topical Gel May Reduce Discomfort with Mammography

Application of the topical gel, lidocaine, prior to a mammography appears to reduce discomfort caused by the procedure. These results were recently published in the journal Radiology.

Mammograms, or an x-ray of the breast, are recommended for women 40 years or older as screening for breast cancer. However, the procedure is associated with pain caused by pressure on the breast tissue itself. Researchers have been evaluating ways in which to increase compliance with mammography for all women, including the reduction of physical discomfort caused by the procedure itself.

Researchers from the Mountain States Tumor Institution (MSTI) in Boise, Idaho recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate ways in which to relieve pain associated with mammography. This trial included 418 women aged 32 to 89 years who were to undergo a mammogram and expected substantial discomfort with the procedure. Patients were given either acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and/or lidocaine gel prior to the procedure.

• Discomfort with the procedure was significantly reduced among the patients who received the gel.

• Patients with a reduction in discomfort were more likely to plan screening with mammography next year.

• Significant differences in discomfort were also associated between different combinations of technologists and mammography machines.

The researchers concluded that “Premedication with 4% lidocaine gel significantly reduced discomfort during screening mammography, and reduced discomfort may improve the likelihood of future mammographic screening and early detection of breast cancer.” Patients who are to undergo screening mammography and are concerned about discomfort associated with the procedure may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of receiving lidocaine gel prior to the mammogram.

Reference: Lambertz C, Johnson C, Montgomery P, Maxwell J. Premedication to Reduce Discomfort during Screening Mammography. Radiology. 2008. Early on-line publication. DOI: 10.1148/radiol.2482071490.

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