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August 12, 2020  
MEDTECH NEWS: Technology & Innovation

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  • Help without Hurt – Pain-Free Shots

    Help without Hurt – Pain Free Shots


    July 05, 2005

    By Shelagh McNally for Body1

    Almost everyone suffers in varying degrees of trypanophobia: Fear of injections. A group of trypanophobic UC Berkeley students may have perfected a way making that annual flu shot less painful and they owe their inspiration to the common inkjet printer.
    Take Action
    Make Immunizations Less Traumatic:

    Educate yourself on why immunizations and other injections are necessary. Learning more about why you need a shot can help rationalize the small bit of discomfort.

    Prior to receiving your injection, distract yourself by reading a book or magazine, doing a crossword puzzle or listening to music.

    It’s injection time – relax and remain calm. Tensing your body or jerking will not make the process better. You can even ask your doctor to provide a distraction so you don’t know the actual timing of the needle prick. And, be sure to ask about any numbing preparation ahead of time.

    After the injection is over reward yourself with a small treat for successful completion.


    Their invention, the Microjet injector uses the same principle as the inkjet printer. Tiny jet injectors with miniature nozzles (70 microns in diameter) powered by carbon dioxide, shoot medication through the skin in a fraction of a section without causing any pain. Since the medication is dispersed more evenly and broadly under the skin than conventional shots, the medication is absorbed more rapidly. Needle-free jet injection has been around since the mid 1990s but the older prototypes couldn’t deliver the volume and speed necessary to get the drugs under the skin. The Berkeley crew has perfected the method by incorporating the same electronic components found in the inkjet printer to create a more consistent and faster delivery.

    Pain-free shots have been available for some time in the form cooling sprays or anesthetic creams that numb the skin before the shot. Usually made with four percent amethocaine gel (Ametop) or Ethyl Chloride these creams numb the skin so you can’t feel the needle. Another alternative are micro-needles where microscopic individual micro-needles are attached to a small patch about the size of a pinky. The patch is placed on the skin so the tiny needles can puncture just the top and transfer fluid from the patch to the skin in a matter of minutes. Since micro-needles are so small, pain is reduced significantly. But the problem with both gels and micro-needles is the expense. Micro needles are made with silicon making mass production impractical. One micro needle costs $9 while one treatment of gel can cost anywhere from $1 - $4 per patient. Jet injection costs mere 13 cents per treatment.

    But the real benefit is the promise of delivering virtually pain-free shots as well as IV catheters—something most patients would welcome. According to research conducted by University of Illinois, 98 percent of patients in the neurosurgical intensive care and step-down units would be willing to pay an extra fee in order to receive their medication "pain free."

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are also looking at the jet injection system to fill the need for an easy-to-use, reliable, fast and contamination-free method of delivering vaccinations throughout the world. Over one million people per year die from syringe transmitted diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. However, since this remains a relatively new technology, most health care practitioners need to be trained on how to use the injectors on patients before its use would be widespread.

    Last updated: 05-Jul-05

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