Mammographers receivewarnings on lidocaine risks

March 1, 2009
Volume 31, Issue 4

The FDA has issued an advisory warning to physicians and patients about potential health risks from topical anesthetic lidocaine used to reduce the discomfort of breast compression during mammography.

The FDA has issued an advisory warning to physicians and patients about potential health risks from topical anesthetic lidocaine used to reduce the discomfort of breast compression during mammography.

Dr. Colleen K. Lambertz and colleagues at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise, ID, discussed the potential value of nonprescription lidocaine gel spread before mammography in the September 2008 issue of Radiology (248[3]:765-771). Lambertz reported that lidocaine produced a few minor side effects, but the FDA noted in January that the study was not large enough to evaluate the potential for serious reactions. The deaths of two women who used topical anesthetics prior to laser hair removal led the FDA to issue in early 2007 an advisory on potentially lifethreatening side effects of skin products containing numbing ingredients and guidelines for safer use.