Spinal versus Epidural Anesthesia for Cesarean Section in Severely Preeclamptic Patients: A Retrospective Survey

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Abstract

Background

Selection of spinal anesthesia for severely preeclamptic patients requiring cesarean section is controversial. Significant maternal hypotension is believed to be more likely with spinal compared with epidural anesthesia. The purpose of this study was to assess, in a large retrospective clinical series, the blood pressure effects of spinal and epidural anesthesia in severely preeclamptic patients requiring cesarean section.

Methods

The computerized medical records database was reviewed for all preeclamptic patients having cesarean section between January 1, 1989 and December 31, 1996. All nonlaboring severely preeclamptic patients receiving either spinal or epidural anesthesia for cesarean section were included for analysis. The lowest recorded blood pressures were compared for the 20-min period before induction of regional anesthesia, the period from induction of regional anesthesia to delivery, and the period from delivery to the end of operation.

Results

Study groups included 103 women receiving spinal anesthesia and 35 receiving epidural anesthesia. Changes in the lowest mean blood pressure were similar after epidural or spinal anesthesia. Intraoperative ephedrine use was similar for both groups. Intraoperative crystalloid administration was statistically greater for patients receiving spinal versus epidural anesthesia (1780 +/- 838 vs. 1359 +/- 674 ml, respectively). Neonatal Apgar scores and incidence of maternal intensive care unit admission or postoperative pulmonary edema were also similar.

Conclusion

Although we cannot exclude the possibility that the spinal and epidural anesthesia groups were dissimilar, the magnitudes of maternal blood pressure declines were similar after spinal or epidural anesthesia in this series of severely preeclamptic patients receiving cesarean section. Maternal and fetal outcomes also were similar.

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