Background and Objectives Epinephrine is used with local anesthetics to prolong the duration of epidural analgesia and decrease the peak plasma concentrations of local anesthetics. In the practice of obstetric anesthesia, the utero-placental and fetal effects of epinephrine are controversial issues. We designed a prospective, randomized, and double-blind study to examine the effects of epinephrine infusion on the quality of analgesia and uterine or umbilical blood flows with Doppler ultrasound, as well as the duration of the first or the second stage of labor, and fetal outcome.
Methods Twenty-eight parturients received continuous epidural bupivacaine 0.25% (4 mL/h) combined either with epinephrine (20 μg/h) (n = 13) or without epinephrine (n = 15) for analgesia during labor. If patients requested additional analgesia, an additional bolus of 1% or 1.5% lidocaine (6 to 10 mL) was admimistered.
Results The total amount of additional lidocaine was greater in the plain bupivacaine group (130 [0, 280] mg; median [25th, 75th percentile] with P < .05) than in the epinephrine group (0 [0, 60] mg). Epinephrine infusion did not alter the resistance of the uterine and umbilical arteries as measured by resistance index. The duration of the first or second stages of labor did not significantly differ in the 2 groups. Epinephrine infusion did not change the fetal heart rate or the blood gas data in the umbilical artery.
Conclusions A low-dose epidural infusion of epinephrine decreased anesthetic requirements.
- Epidural anesthesia
- Labor and delivery
- Epidural epinephrine
- Uterine blood flow
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Presented in part at the 1999 annual meeting of the International Anesthesia Research Society, Los Angeles, CA.