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Dig Dis Sci. 2007 Feb;52(2):579-81. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

Liver biopsy: is the pain for real or is it only the fear of it?

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  • 1Gastroenterology Department, Ege University Hospital, Izmir, Turkey.


Although percutaneous liver biopsy (PLB) has very low mortality and morbidity rates, it often is considered painful and frightening by the patients. This study was designed to grade the intensity of pain expected before the procedure and experienced during the procedure, and whether there is any correlation between pain and the emotional state of the patient. A total of 118 consecutive patients (aged 19-68 (mean, 44) years), who were undergoing PLB for the first time, were included in the study. Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was used before the procedure, after the procedure to grade the degree of pain expected, and the degree of the pain experienced respectively. All the patients were evaluated by a questionnaire for their personality and emotional situation by using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Somatization Sub-scale (MMPI-SS). Mean VAS score for expected pain before the procedure was 60+/-20 and for the pain experienced during the procedure was 22+/-16 (P < 0.0001). Although the expected pain scores of female patients were significantly higher than males (66+/-22 vs. 55+/-17; P=0.003), there was no difference between female and male patients in the experienced pain scores. The procedure of PLB is expected to be more painful than it really is by the patients, especially by females. Calming the patients by informing them about the procedure and their diseases will probably diminish the expected pain.

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