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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Surgeries and Procedures > Topical Anesthesia

Topical Anesthesia

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Home Care and Complications

Topical anesthesia is a method of pain control. The numbing medication is placed directly on the surface to be treated. Topical numbing medication comes in many forms, including sprays, gels, gargles, and lozenges.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Topical pain medications are used for a wide range of procedures. They can be used to numb the front of the eye, the inside of the nose, the throat, the skin, the ear, the anus, and the genital area.

How is the procedure performed?

The type of topical anesthesia applied varies, depending on the area of the body. Eye drops can be used to numb the front of the eye. Jellies are commonly used before endoscopy, a procedure in which a thin telescope is placed inside the body. This telescope allows a doctor to see the inside of the nose, throat, lungs, stomach, bladder, or other areas. Jelly can be applied or even put on the telescope so that areas are numbed during the procedure.

Sprays and creams are commonly used on the skin. Sprays or lozenges may be used for the throat and mouth areas.

After the area is numb from the medication, the procedure can begin. Procedures range from a routine eye exam to putting sutures in a cut. Topical anesthesia is most useful for minor procedures. Major operations require more complete pain control and the person is usually put to sleep.

While sedatives may be given if needed, a person is usually awake during the procedure. The numbing effect usually wears off within an hour.


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Topical Anesthesia: Preparation & Expectations

Author: Adam Brochert, MD
Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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