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Treatment of specific phobias of clinical procedures in adults

Yujuan Choy, MD
Section Editor
Murray B Stein, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Acute procedural anxiety is an excessive fear of medical, dental, or surgical procedures resulting in acute distress or interference with completing necessary procedures.

Specific phobias, a subset of presentations of acute procedural anxiety, are diagnosed only when the patient’s fears are specific to the procedure and its immediate effects (rather than, for example, fear of a potentially serious diagnosis or of discomfort during the procedure) [1]. The most prominent specific phobias of clinical procedures are:

Dental phobia – Experiencing pain during dental treatment

Blood injection-injury phobia – Seeing blood during venipuncture

Magnetic resonance imaging claustrophobia – Suffocating during a magnetic resonance imaging scan

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 25, 2016.
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