Review Article

Methods of reducing pain during bone marrow biopsy: a narrative review

Mohammad Faizan Zahid


Bone marrow examination plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and management of various hematological and systemic diseases. Even though the procedure has been carried out for decades, it remains an extremely painful and uncomfortable experience for a majority of patients. This paper reviews the different strategies used to provide analgesia and summarizes the advantages and drawbacks of one strategy over the other. A literature review was carried out addressing the different approaches to providing pain relief during bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. Several different methods, procedure modifications and protocols are employed at various centers but pain control and analgesia remain incomplete. Local infiltration with lidocaine or similar local analgesics is the standard at most centers. Although there is limited data, there are several studies in literature demonstrating the pain relieving effects of different methods and drugs when used with local anesthetics. Sedation, usually using benzodiazepines, reduces anticipatory anxiety, provides analgesia and also short term amnesia. Combinations of different agents not only yield potent effects but also reduce the required dose of each individual drug, minimizing adverse effects. Non-pharmacological factors also play key roles. Providing patients with complete and comprehensible information is vital to ensure the least amount of discomfort during the biopsy. Distraction techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis and music therapy, may also play a role in minimizing pain.

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