A large majority of routine infant circumcisions are not performed with any anesthetic. In fact, up to 96 percent of the babies in the United States and Canada receive no anesthesia when they are circumcised, according to a report from the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
This has many parents (and medical professionals) concerned about the pain associated with circumcision, but is a local anesthetic enough?
In this research study, 11 male newborns were circumcised with a local dorsal penile nerve block, and 13 controls were circumcised without anesthetic. When the adrenal cortisol levels were compared, response to surgery was not significantly reduced by the administration of lidocaine.
Some doctors use EMLA cream as an anesthetic. Not only is EMLA cream less effective than a lidocaine injection, but the manufacturer's insert warns against its use on infants and on the genitals of children:
- EMLA is used to temporarily numb the surface of the skin. It is used for pain relief on the skin prior to procedures such as needle insertion and minor skin surgery in adults and children older than 1 year
- When using EMLA Cream, it should NOT be applied to the following areas:
• cuts, grazes or wounds
• where there is a skin rash or eczema
• in or near the eyes
• inside the nose
• in the ear
• in the mouth
• in the anus (back passage)
• the genitals of children
- Use on genital skin prior to injections of local anesthetics (adult men only)
- Use on genital skin prior to minor skin surgery (adults only)
Anesthetic is used... can you tell?