Concerning the letter to the editor by Guldberg1 that appeared in the December 1993 issue of the Archives, I want to make the following remarks.
Anesthesia of the tympanic membrane is a difficult challenge if topical application is intended. Many mixtures and substances have been proposed, but none of the hitherto known anesthetics lacks drawbacks. Of importance is that the anesthetic should be efficient and have a minimum of adverse effects. The anesthetic should be easy to handle and be rapid acting. It should also be simple to produce at low cost. Phenol is a substance that meets these requirements to a very high degree. Advocated first by Storrs2 in 1956, the substance has been widely used during the last few decades. Used with accuracy it is still probably the simplest and cheapest and most easily available of the efficient topical anesthetics for use on the tympanic membrane.
Schmidt S. Anesthesia of the Tympanic Membrane. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121(3):353-354. doi:10.1001/archotol.1995.01890030079016