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BACKGROUND: Hysterosalpingography (HSG) is a method of testing for tubal patency. Various pharmacological strategies are available that may reduce the pain during the procedure. OBJECTIVES: To compare the effectiveness of different types of pharmacological interventions for pain relief in women undergoing hysterosalpingography (HSG) for investigation of subfertility. SEARCH STRATEGY: This review has drawn on the search strategy developed for the Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group. In addition MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched up to July 2006. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised controlled trials investigating the pharmacological interventions for pain relief during HSG were investigated. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were extracted independently by the first two authors. Differences of opinion were registered and resolved by the third author. Results for each study were expressed as mean pain score and standard error of the mean with 95% confidence intervals. MAIN RESULTS: The included eight trials reported on 570 women undergoing HSG.Overall, there was no evidence of benefit of using any analgesia compared with placebo for pain relief during the procedure (standard mean difference (SMD) of -0.05 (95%CI -0.25 to 0.14) or up to 29 minutes after HSG SMD 0.17, (95%CI -1.00 to 1.34)). Four RCTs involving 219 women found evidence of benefit with any analgesia in comparison to placebo for pain relief more than 30 minutes after HSG, with the SMD of -0.82(95%CI-1.18 to -0.45). One RCT involving 91 women compared the effectiveness of opioid analgesics versus non-opioid analgesics and reported no evidence of difference in pain relief at any stage of the procedure. One RCT involving 20 women compared the use of topical analgesia with a paracervical block, with analysis demonstrating more benefit to be gained from using topical analgesia during HSG, with the SMD of -2.03 (95%Cl-3.16 to -0.91). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is little evidence of benefit in terms of pain relief of any of the interventions considered in this study during or immediately after HSG. However, there is limited evidence of pain reduction 30 minutes after the procedure. Further RCTs should consider the role of non steroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDs) and intrauterine anaesthetic during HSG.

Original publication




Journal article


Cochrane Database Syst Rev

Publication Date



Analgesia/*methods Analgesics, Non-Narcotic/therapeutic use Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use Female Humans Hysterosalpingography/*adverse effects Infertility, Female/etiology Nerve Block/methods Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic