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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jan;19(1):13-7.

Maternal pain and anxiety in genetic amniocentesis: expectation versus reality.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lenox-Hill Hospital, New York 10021, USA.



To investigate maternal perceptions of both pain and anxiety before and after genetic amniocentesis.


This prospective study of midtrimester, singleton pregnancies was conducted between March 2000 and July 2000. Study variables included patient demographics, medical and obstetric histories, indication for amniocentesis and a description of the source of information used by the patient regarding the procedure and technical degree of difficulty. Maternal pain and anxiety associated with performing amniocentesis were subjectively quantified with the use of the visual analog scale (VAS). Statistical analysis included Wilcoxon signed rank test, anova, and simple and stepwise regression analyses.


One hundred and eighty-three women participated in the study. Perception of pain before amniocentesis was significantly higher compared to that expressed immediately after the procedure, with a mean VAS score of 3.7 +/- 2.5 vs. 2.1 +/- 2.0 (P < 0.0001). Similarly, perception of anxiety was significantly greater prior to the procedure, with a mean VAS score of 4.6 +/- 2.8 vs. 2.8 +/- 2.4 after the amniocentesis (P < 0.0001). Perceptions of pain and anxiety were significantly and positively correlated to each other both before and after the procedure (P < 0.0001). History of a prior amniocentesis was the only variable associated with reducing expected pain and anxiety (negative correlation, P < 0.001), whereas the technical degree of difficulty was the only significant variable impacting on the actual pain and anxiety (positive correlation, P < 0.005).


Preamniocentesis counseling should emphasize the fact that, for most women, the actual pain and anxiety experienced during the procedure are significantly lower than expected. In fact, on a scale of 0-10, the mean level of pain was only 2.1, with a slightly higher mean level of anxiety.

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