Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Does Combined Spinal-Epidural Analgesia With Subarachnoid Sufentanil Increase the Incidence of Emergency Cesarean Delivery?
  1. George A. Albright, M.D. and
  2. Richard M. Forster, M.D.
  1. From Bellevue Woman's Hospital, Niskayuna, New York
  1. Reprint requests: George A. Albright, M.D., 2210 Troy Road, Niskayuna, NY 12309.


Background and Objectives The purpose of this review was to determine if patients who receive combined spinal-epidural (CSE) analgesia with subarachnoid sufentanil have an increased incidence of emergency cesarean delivery for fetal distress when compared with patients who receive systemic or no medication (S/NM) for labor analgesia.

Methods A retrospective computerized analysis of data on all 2,560 deliveries at Bellevue Woman's Hospital for 14 months summarized practice parameters for 1,240 patients who received regional analgesia (98% CSE analgesia), identified 1,140 patients who received S/NM, and classified the urgency of 479 cesarean deliveries. In the CSE group there were 168 cesarean deliveries (emergency 16, urgent 58, semiurgent 70, and nonurgent 24) as compared with a total of 128 (emergency 16, urgent 43, semiurgent 69, nonurgent 0) in the S/NM group. Scheduled cesarean sections (180) were excluded from the study.

Results The incidence of emergency cesarean delivery in 1,217 patients who received CSE analgesia with subarachnoid sufentanil (10-15 μg) compared with 1,140 patients who received S/NM for labor analgesia was 1.3% versus 1.4%, respectively. More importantly, there was no case in which emergency cesarean delivery was required for acute fetal distress in the absence of obstetric factors during the 90 minutes following administration of subarachnoid sufentanil. General anesthesia was required for emergency cesarean delivery in only one patient (6%) in the CSE group, as against eight patients (50%) in the S/NM group who required general anesthesia for emergency cesarean section (P < .05).

Conclusions This experience indicates that patients who receive CSE analgesia do not have a higher incidence of emergency cesarean delivery than patients who have S/NM for labor analgesia. Emergency cesarean section for fetal distress within 90 minutes of the administration of intrathecal sufentanil only occurred in association with obstetric factors. However, caution should be exercised in extrapolating these results to other practice settings, particularly highrisk referral centers.

  • obstetric analgesia
  • combined spinal-epidural analgesia
  • sufentanil
  • emergency cesarean delivery
  • fetal heart rate
  • fetal bradycardia

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.