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Br J Anaesth. 2002 Jan;88(1):18-23.

Effects of high inspired oxygen fraction during elective caesarean section under spinal anaesthesia on maternal and fetal oxygenation and lipid peroxidation.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, China.



Oxygen supplementation is given routinely to parturients undergoing Caesarean section under regional anaesthesia. While the aim is to improve fetal oxygenation, inspiring a high oxygen fraction (FIO2) can also increase free radical activity and lipid peroxidation in both the mother and baby. In this prospective, randomized, double-blind study, we investigated the effect of high inspired oxygen fraction (FIO2) on maternal and fetal oxygenation and oxygen free radical activity in parturients having Caesarean section under spinal anaesthesia.


Forty-four healthy parturients were randomized to breathe either 21% (air group) or 60% oxygen (oxygen group) intraoperatively via a ventimask. Maternal arterial blood was collected at 5-min intervals from baseline until delivery, and umbilical arterial and venous blood was collected at delivery. We measured blood gases and the products of lipid peroxidation (8-isoprostane, malondialdehyde (MDA), hydroperoxide (OHP)) and purine metabolites.


At delivery, the oxygen group had greater maternal arterial PO2 [mean 30.0 (SD 6.3) vs 14.2 (1.9) kPa; mean difference 15.8 kPa, 95% confidence interval 12.9-18.7 kPa, P<0.001] and greater umbilical venous PO2 [4.8 (1.0) vs 4.0 (1.4) kPa; mean difference 0.8 kPa, 95% confidence interval 0.0-1.5 kPa, P=0.04] compared with the air group. Maternal and umbilical plasma concentrations of lipid peroxides (8-isoprostane, MDA, OHP) were greater in the oxygen group than in the air group (P<0.05).


We conclude that breathing high FIO2 modestly increased fetal oxygenation but caused a concomitant increase in oxygen free radical activity in both mother and fetus.

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