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Anesth Analg. 2002 Jul;95(1):198-203, table of contents.

Does spinal anesthesia cause hearing loss in the obstetric population?

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Magee-Women's Hospital, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 300 Halket Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Lumbar puncture is believed to cause hypoacousis by causing cerebrospinal fluid leakage in older individuals. We hypothesized that parturients undergoing subarachnoid block (SAB) may experience hearing loss. We evaluated the effects of SAB on hearing in parturients undergoing elective cesarean delivery. We also compared two types of spinal needles: a pencil-point needle (24-gauge Sprotte needle) and a cutting needle (25-gauge Quincke needle). Sixty patients were studied: 20 received lumbar epidural block for labor analgesia (controls), 20 received a SAB with a Sprotte needle, and 20 others received a SAB with a Quincke needle for cesarean delivery. A tone audiometer was used to test for that decibel level at which the patient heard 125-, 250-, 500-, 1000-, 2000-, 4000-, and 8000-Hz frequencies. The hearing test was performed before anesthesia, after delivery, and on the first and second postoperative days. The results were analyzed by using repeated-measures analysis of variance at P < 0.05. No patient from any of the three groups developed a hearing loss either at low or high frequencies. Spinal anesthesia does not lead to significant hearing loss when a pencil- or a cutting-point needle is used in the obstetric population.


Sixty obstetric patients were enrolled in the study to examine the possible effects of spinal anesthesia on their hearing. By using an audiometer, the patient's hearing was evaluated before delivery, after delivery, and for the following 2 days. There was no significant change of hearing in any of the patients.

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