BACKGROUND: Effective pain management after removal of femoral artery sheaths after percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty is highly individualized and requires frequent, accurate assessment and administration of analgesics as needed. OBJECTIVE: To determine which of 3 analgesic regimens is most effective in decreasing patients' perception of pain with the fewest side effects after removal of a femoral artery sheath. SAMPLE: 130 adult who had undergone percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty and were in an 8-bed cardiac short-stay unit in a 1400-bed acute care hospital. METHOD: Patients were randomized to receive either intravenous morphine, intravenous fentanyl, subcutaneous lidocaine around the sheath site, or an intravenous placebo before sheath removal. Rescue analgesia (intravenous fentanyl) was made available to all groups. Patients used a visual analog scale to assess pain within 10 minutes before, 1 minute after, and 20 minutes after sheath removal. Pain levels, frequency of side effects, and use of rescue analgesia were compared among groups. RESULTS: Age, sex, number of stents, and frequency of hematomas did not differ significantly among groups. Pain ratings, use of rescue analgesia, and side effects (nausea, vomiting, or vasovagal symptoms) were not significantly different among treatment groups. Ratings of pain were slightly higher immediately after sheath removal in all groups. CONCLUSION: For most patients, removal of femoral artery sheaths and manual compression for hemostasis are relatively pain-free. Pain scores among patients given analgesia with subcutaneous lidocaine, intravenous morphine, or intravenous fentanyl were not significantly different from pain scores among control patients.

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