Over-the-counter anesthetic reduces breast imaging pain

Researchers in Idaho have found that a little lidocaine gel applied topically reduces breast discomfort experienced during mammography.

The simple technique could lead more women to comply with recommended guidelines for mammographic screening.

Lead investigator Colleen Lambertz, and colleagues at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise recruited 418 women ages 32 to 89 scheduled for mammography screening. Fifty-four of them had reportedly delayed their exams over discomfort fears. They were randomized for medication with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, lidocaine gel, or placebos before mammography. Women who received a topical application reported significantly less breast discomfort during mammography. The study was published in the September issue of Radiology.