Safety and technical success of diphenhydramine as an alternative local anaesthetic agent for radiology procedures

L. Xiao, S. Wagle, J. J. Schmitz, G. K. Hesley, A. Parvinian, N. J. Brinkman, M. R. Moynagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To evaluate retrospectively the safety and technical success of subcutaneous diphenhydramine as an alternative local anaesthetic for radiology procedures. Materials and methods: Between January 2000 and April 2021, 84 image-guided procedures were performed in 81 adult patients (mean age 61 years, 86% female) using 1% injectable diphenhydramine as a local anaesthetic. Indications were history of severe allergy to “-caine” local anaesthetics in 76 (90%) patients and recent administration of bupivacaine liposomal injectable suspension in eight (10%) patients. Twelve of the 84 (14%) procedures were performed with concomitant moderate sedation. Patient characteristics, procedural techniques, and clinical outcomes were reviewed. Early and delayed (30-day) complications were classified as either related to local diphenhydramine injection or to the procedure itself. Procedure-related complications were gradated using the Clavien–Dindo system. Results: Percutaneous biopsy was the most frequently performed procedure (57/84, 67%). Fifty-nine (70%) of the 84 procedures were ultrasound guided. The most common procedural site was the breast (34/84, 40%). All procedures were technically successful. There were two minor injection-related complications related to post-procedural pain. A single minor procedure-related complication involved a patient requiring hospital admission for post-renal biopsy related haematuria. Conclusion: Injectable diphenhydramine appears to be a safe and effective local anaesthetic alternative in patients with “-caine” class contraindications undergoing radiology procedures. A future prospective trial would be useful to assess the safety profile in an large cohort of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e177-e181
JournalClinical Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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