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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Aug;191(2):542-5.

Clinical correlates of pain with amniocentesis.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 6431 Fannin, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine whether sensory or affective dimensions of pain with genetic amniocentesis are associated with identifiable clinical correlates.


Women completed the short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire after second-trimester genetic amniocentesis. The effect of maternal weight, parity, previous amniocentesis, previous surgery, history of menstrual cramps, maternal anxiety, presence of fibroid tumors, and depth and location of needle insertion on pain intensity was determined. The T-test, correlation matrix, Kruskal-Wallis test, and multiple logistic regression were used for analysis; a probability value of <.05 was considered significant.


One hundred twenty-one women were enrolled: 19.3% reported no pain, 42.9% described the pain as mild, 31.1% described the pain as discomforting, and 6.7% described the pain as distressing or horrible. Mean intensity of pain was 1.6+/-1.3 (on a scale of 0-7). Pain was most often described as sharp, cramping, fearful, and stabbing. Anxiety and pain were increased in women with an indication of abnormal serum screen as compared with women with advanced maternal age. Anxiety and a history of menstrual cramps were associated with increased affective dimensions of pain and had moderate correlation with quantified pain intensity. A history of previous amniocentesis and needle insertion in the lower one third of the uterus were associated with increased pain. Maternal weight, parity, previous surgery, fibroid tumors, and depth of needle insertion were not correlated with perceived pain. Presence or absence of an accompanying person was not associated with pain intensity.


Women report mild pain or discomfort with genetic amniocentesis. Increased pain is associated with increased maternal anxiety, a history of menstrual cramps, a previous amniocentesis, and insertion of the needle in the lower uterus.

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