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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1991 Nov 26;42(2):89-94.

Maternal and umbilical cord concentrations of fentanyl after epidural analgesia for cesarean section.

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INSERM CJF 89-08 CHU La Grave, Toulouse, France.


The maternal and umbilical concentrations of fentanyl were measured after epidural analgesia for cesarean section, using a highly sensitive radioimmunoassay method. Sixteen parturients were anesthetized with a single epidural injection of a mixture of 85 mg bupivacaine 0.5%, 60 mg etidocaine 1%, and 100 micrograms fentanyl with epinephrine 1:200,000. Apparent maternal individual maximum peak concentration (Cmax) of fentanyl was 0.38 +/- 0.16 ng/ml (mean +/- SD) (range 0.12-0.59 ng/ml) and the time to reach Cmax (Tmax) was 24 +/- 14 min (range 5-60 min). Infants were born 19 to 42 min after epidural administration of fentanyl (mean 27 min). Fentanyl concentrations in neonates was 0.13 +/- 0.04 ng/ml for the umbilical vein and 0.06 +/- 0.03 ng/ml for the artery. The fetus extraction ratio was 53 +/- 19% (range 20-83%). The large difference between arterial and venous concentrations of fentanyl may be due to a metabolization by the fetus and/or an uptake of the drug in the fetal tissues. Thus, even if fentanyl levels reaching the fetus after cesarean section under epidural anesthesia, using local anesthetics with 100 micrograms of fentanyl, are within safe range values, the likelihood of fentanyl uptake by fetal tissues calls for a cautious use of repeated fentanyl administration.

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