Effect of microneedle design on pain in human volunteers

Harvinder S. Gill, Donald D. Denson, Brett A. Burris, Mark R. Prausnitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


Objectives: To design microneedles that minimize pain, this study tested the hypothesis that microneedles cause significantly less pain than a 26-gauge hypodermic needle, and that decreasing microneedle length and the number of microneedles reduces pain in normal human volunteers. Methods: Single microneedles with lengths ranging from 480 to 1450? μm, widths from 160 to 465 μm, thicknesses from 30 to 100 μm, and tip angles from 20 to 90 degrees; and arrays containing 5 or 50 microneedles were inserted into the volar forearms of 10 healthy, human volunteers in a double-blinded, randomized study. Visual analog scale pain scores were recorded and compared with each other and to the pain from a 26-gauge hypodermic needle. Results: All microneedles investigated were significantly less painful than the hypodermic needle with microneedle pain scores varying from 5% to 40% of the hypodermic needle. Microneedle length had the strongest effect on pain, where a 3-fold increase in length increased the pain score by 7-fold. The number of microneedles also affected the pain score, where a 10-fold increase in the number of microneedles increased pain just over 2-fold. Microneedle tip angle, thickness, and width did not significantly influence pain. Discussion: Microneedles are significantly less painful than a 26-gauge hypodermic needle over the range of dimensions investigated. Decreasing microneedle length and number of microneedles reduces pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-594
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Hypodermic needle
  • Microneedle dimensions
  • Microneedle length
  • Transdermal drug delivery

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