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Anaesthesia. 2001 May;56(5):470-6.

Quantitative assessment of motor block in labouring women receiving epidural analgesia.

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Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion, Royal Infirmary, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9YW, UK.


The assessment of motor block associated with epidural analgesia is traditionally performed using the modified Bromage Score. However, it is a qualitative and quantitative measurement of both spread and intensity of motor block in the lower limbs, and it has been adapted from Bromage's original use as an assessment of the adequacy of epidural anaesthesia for abdominal surgery. A number of quantitative assessment methods exist but these are either laboratory based and/or impracticable in the clinical situation of labour. We therefore set out to devise a quantitative assessment method which would be easy to use and acceptable to labouring women receiving epidural analgesia. A force transducer was modified to enable power of hip adduction to be assessed quantitatively before and after epidural analgesia was established. These results were compared with the modified Bromage Scale and an extended scale which further subdivided the scores between 0 and 1. Our results show that there is a large variation in the quantitative measurement of motor block (as measured by adductor strength) that may not be detected by the sole use of the modified Bromage Score. We suggest that future studies to assess motor block in the clinical setting use an additional quantitative method of assessment.

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