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Int J Obstet Anesth. 1992 May;1(3):129-34.

Ephedrine and phenylephrine for avoiding maternal hypotension due to spinal anaesthesia for caesarean section. Effects on uteroplacental and fetal haemodynamics.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Oulu, SF-90220 Oulu, Finland.


The effects of i.v. vasopressors on Doppler velocimetry of the maternal uterine and placental arcuate arteries and the fetal umbilical, renal and middle cerebral arteries were studied during spinal anaesthesia in 19 healthy parturients undergoing elective caesarean section. Fetal myocardial function was investigated at the same time by M-mode echocardiography. The patients were randomized into two groups, to be given either ephedrine or phenylephrine as a prophylactic infusion supplemented with minor boluses if systolic arterial pressure decreased by more than 10 mmHg from the control value. Both the vasopressors restored maternal arterial pressure effectively. The ephedrine group showed no significant differences in any of the Doppler velocimetry recordings relative to the baseline values, but during the phenylephrine infusion the blood flow velocity waveform indices for the uterine and placental arcuate arteries increased significantly and vascular resistance decreased significantly in the fetal renal arteries. Healthy fetuses seem to tolerate these changes in uteroplacental circulation well, however, since the Apgar scores for the newborns and the acid-base values in the umbilical cord were within the normal range in both groups. The results suggest that some caution is required when selecting the specific vasopressor agent, the dosage and the mode of administration for the treatment of maternal hypotension secondary to spinal anaesthesia for caesarean section.


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