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Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(10):1188

Author disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Original Article: Essentials of Skin Laceration Repair

Issue Date: October 15, 2008

to the editor: Dr. Forsch neatly summarized the essentials of skin laceration repair in this article. However, he continues to promulgate the myth that local anesthetics with epinephrine should not be used in the digits. Historical reviews1 and prospective series in more than 3,000 patients2 have documented that it is safe to use lidocaine (Xylocaine) with epinephrine in the digits. In addition, phentolamine may be injected to reverse digital ischemia hours later, if necessary. Much like naloxone (formerly Narcan) is available to reverse opioid overdoses, phentolamine rescue is always possible; however, I have never needed to use it in my 10-year practice of routinely using lidocaine with epinephrine for finger surgery.3

Physicians treating lacerations in the hand or digits may easily dilute the adrenaline concentration to one half or one fourth by adding plain lidocaine. This practice enables the tissue ischemia to wear off more rapidly and still allows for optimal exposure of the wound. Plain lidocaine, without epinephrine, acts as a vasodilator and increases bleeding.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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