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Can J Anaesth. 1995 Dec;42(12):1117-25.

Obstetrical anaesthesia in Ontario.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, Ontario.


The purpose of this study was to determine the availability of regional anaesthesia for Caesarean section, of epidural opioids and patient-controlled analgesia after Caesarean section, and of epidural and other forms of analgesia in labour. A mail survey was sent to the "Head Nurse, Department of Obstetrics" at each of the 142 hospitals in Ontario with designated obstetric beds. Responses were obtained from 100% of hospitals. For Caesarean Section, general anaesthesia was used in all hospitals, and was the only option in seven. Epidural anaesthesia was used in 93% of hospitals, and spinal anaesthesia in 48%. Postoperatively, patient-controlled analgesia was used in 31% of hospitals and spinal opioids in 28%. In 66 hospitals, im or iv opioids were the only types of analgesia available. For analgesia in labour, im or iv opioids were used in 96% of hospitals, nitrous oxide was used in 75%, epidural analgesia in 75%, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in 52% and patient-controlled analgesia in 10%. The overall epidural rate was 38%. Although the average rate in the 73 hospitals with fewer than 500 births per year was only 6%, 14 large hospitals had an epidural rate of 60% or higher. It is concluded that regional techniques for peripartum analgesia have been widely accepted. Analgesia after Caesarean section could be improved. Epidural analgesia should be more widely available, especially in the many small hospitals in Ontario.

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