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Anesthesiology. 1989 Jun;70(6):948-53.

Oxyhemoglobin saturation following cesarean section in patients receiving epidural morphine, PCA, or im meperidine analgesia.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305.


The frequency and severity of oxyhemoglobin desaturation was compared in 49 patients receiving epidural morphine, 5 mg (n = 21); patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) using meperidine (n = 20); or intramuscular (im) meperidine (n = 8) for postoperative analgesia following elective cesarean section performed with epidural anesthesia. Oxygen saturation (SpO2) was monitored for 24 h using a pulse oximeter; data were continuously collected and stored every 30 s via an interface connected to a computer. For analysis purposes, SpO2 was divided into five categories: 96-100%, 91-95%, 86-90%, 81-85%, and less than or equal to 80%. Although SpO2 remained above 95% for the majority of the monitored period, patients in all groups experienced periods of desaturation. PCA patients spent the longest cumulative time with SpO2 between 91 and 95%, 231 +/- 49 min (mean +/- SEM), compared with only 112 +/- 30 min and 152 +/- 42 min for the epidural and im groups, respectively (P less than 0.05 vs. epidural group). PCA patients also spent longest with SpO2 at 86-90% (19 +/- 10 min, vs. 6 +/- 3 and 0.5 +/- 0.3 min for the epidural and im groups, respectively), although this difference was not statistically significant. Severe desaturation episodes, defined as SpO2 less than or equal to 85% for more than 30 s, occurred in 71% of patients in the epidural group, 30% in the PCA group, and 63% in the im group (P less than 0.05 PCA vs. epidural and im).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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