Recent advances in obstetric anesthesia
Farragher R, Datta S.
Brigham and Women's Hospital,
Harvard Medical School,
75 Francis Street,
Boston, MA 02115, USA.
J Anesth. 2003;17(1):30-41


The low-dose technique of combined spinal/epidural analgesia is to be welcomed in obstetrics. Its merits include rapid onset of analgesia, with the flexibility of an epidural technique, and high maternal satisfaction. It is a safe and effective technique. Pulse oximetry should be employed when using intrathecal opioids. Commercially available combined-needle devices may make this technique more attractive to users. The role of spinal anesthesia for emergency cesarean section in severe preeclampsia has been reevaluated recently. We consider it a feasible option for those severely preeclamptic women requiring urgent cesarean section who do not have an epidural catheter in place. The choice of anesthetic technique for this patient population should be made on clinical judgment and not on anticipated hemodynamic changes. Spinal anaesthesia for cesarean section is associated with hypotension; however, certain interventions may reduce the incidence and severity of the hypotension. An increase in cardiac output appears to be key in attenuating the hypotensive response to spinal anesthesia. Colloids have exhibited most success in this regard. At our institution, we do not delay spinal anesthesia for urgent cesarean section in order to administer a predetermined volume of fluid; in such cases, we simultaneously administer a fluid preload and spinal anesthesia. Recent studies regarding the use of cell savers for blood conservation in obstetrics are based on small numbers of patients. These studies show great promise, particularly with the modern emphasis on avoiding blood transfusion, which can be massive in this usually young patient population.
Virginia Apgar
Ether in obstetrics
'My beloved chloroform'
Opposition to obstetric anaesthesia
Anaesthesia: rivalries and discoveries
From taboo to evidence-based medicine
Consciousness, anaesthesia and anaesthetics

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