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Paediatr Drugs. 2004;6(6):375-86.

Epidural analgesia for childbirth: effects of newer techniques on neonatal outcome.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, Città di Roma Hospital, Rome, Italy.


New low-dose, local anesthetic-opioid combinations, combined spinal epidural analgesia, and new anesthetic drugs, such as ropivacaine and levobupivacaine, have modified the anesthetic practice in obstetric labor analgesia. These new analgesic techniques have less or no neonatal effects when compared with traditional epidural labor analgesia. They also have less effect on mode of delivery, which may in turn affect neonatal outcome. The use of very diluted or low concentrations of local anesthetic solutions may reduce their placental passage and thus the possible subtle neonatal effects. Small doses of epidural or spinal opioids alone or combined with low doses of local anesthetics does not affect the well-being of the neonate at birth. When considering the neonatal outcome, combined spinal epidural analgesia is as well tolerated as low-dose epidural analgesia. Transient fetal heart rate changes have been described immediately after the administration of intrathecal or epidural opioids. Maternal hypotension may also occur at the onset of epidural analgesia. Whether the occurrence of transient fetal heart rate changes or maternal hypotension immediately after the epidural block may influence the neonatal outcome at birth needs verification.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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