Delaware’s Division of Public Health would like to advise health care providers of potential life-threatening adverse effects presented by improper use of topical anesthetics, such as lidocaine gel, prior to mammography. This concern is due in part to reports of deaths following similar use of topical anesthetics by women preparing for laser hair removal procedures, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Improper use may include (but is not limited to):
Improper use of topical anesthetics can lead to excessive absorption of the drug into the bloodstream and may cause life-threatening side effects such as irregular heartbeat, seizures, breathing difficulties, coma and even death.
The FDA’s message for patients regarding use of a topical anesthetic prior to mammography is as follows:
The FDA’s message for health care professionals who are considering recommending a topical anesthetic prior to mammography is to discuss the following with your patients:
To date, no cases of adverse effects associated with the use of topical anesthetic prior to mammography procedures have been reported in Delaware.
For more information about this issue, see the FDA public health advisory at www.fda.gov/cder/drug/advisory/topical_anesthetics2009.htm. Consumers and healthcare professionals can report adverse events to the FDA's MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088, by mail at MedWatch, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787, or online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm.
For questions regarding this advisory, contact the Health Systems Protection Section, Delaware Division of Public Health, at (302) 744-4546.