Pain During Bone Marrow Aspiration: Prevalence and Prevention

P. Vanhelleputte, K.A.N.D. Nijs, M. Delforge, G. Evers, S. Vanderschueren

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85 Citations (Scopus)


The Prevalence, intensity, determinants and prevention of pain during bone marrow aspiration (BMA) in adults are not well defined. In the first part of this prospective study (observational phase), 132 adult hematological patients undergoing BMA after local anesthesia scored the procedural pain by means of a visual analogue scale (VAS). Moderate to severe pain was defined as a VAS score exceeding 30 mm. Eighty-six percent reported procedural pain. The VAS score (mean +/- SEM) was 27.2 +/- 2. 1 mm. Thirty-six percent of patients graded the pain as moderate to severe. In a linear regression analysis, VAS score correlated positively with the duration of the procedure (P = 0.029) and negatively with the age of the patient (P = 0.006). In the second part of the study (interventional phase), 100 patients were randomized to 50 mg tramadol or placebo, given orally at least one hour before BMA. VAS scores during aspiration were significantly lower in tramadol recipients versus placebo recipients (16.5 +/- 3.0 min and 28.8 +/- 3.4 mm, respectively, P = 0.003). Pretreatment with tramadol reduced the percentage of patients with at least moderate pain from 40% to 20% (P = 0.029). Four tramadol and 3 placebo recipients reported side effects (dizziness or sedation). In conclusion, notwithstanding local anesthesia, the great majority of adult hematological patients experience transient pain during BMA that is of at least moderate intensity in over a third. Pretreatment with tramadol lowers pain intensity significantly and is well tolerated. (C) 2003 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee. Published by Elsevier Inc. All fights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-866
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • induced sedation
  • nitrous-oxide
  • tramadol
  • children
  • premedication
  • management
  • biopsy


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