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chronic leg ulcers, EMLA, pain, wound dressing



  1. Purcell, Anne MNurs (Nurs Prac), RN, NP
  2. Buckley, Thomas PhD, RN
  3. Fethney, Judith BA
  4. King, Jennie PhD, RN
  5. Moyle, Wendy PhD, RN
  6. Marshall, Andrea P. PhD, RN


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of the eutectic mixture of local anesthetics (EMLA; Aspen Pharmacare, St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia) as a primary dressing on painful chronic leg ulcers.


DESIGN: A pilot randomized controlled trial.


SETTING: The study was conducted across 6 community nursing procedure clinics located in a community nursing service in New South Wales, Australia.


PARTICIPANTS: Sixty participants with painful chronic leg ulcers of varied etiology were recruited into the study.


INTERVENTION: Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention (daily EMLA use for 4 weeks as a primary dressing) or a standard wound care group.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The effectiveness of EMLA on wound-related pain intensity before, during, and after dressing change.


MAIN RESULTS: Mean pain scores were similar between the 2 groups at baseline (P = .84). During dressing change, mean pain scores across the 4-week intervention period were significantly lower in the intervention compared with the control group (intervention group: mean, 3.39 [SD, 2.16]; control group: mean, 4.82 [SD, 2.27]; P = .02). Mean pain scores after dressing change were also significantly lower for the intervention group over the 4-week intervention period (intervention group: mean, 2.71 [SD, 1.94]; control group: mean, 3.92 [SD, 2.03]; P = .03).


CONCLUSIONS: Data from this pilot study suggest that EMLA as a primary dressing may be effective in reducing chronic leg ulcer pain during and after dressing change and warrant further evaluation.