Serious Complications Related to Obstetric Anesthesia: The Serious Complication Repository Project of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology

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Abstract

Background:

Because of the lack of large obstetric anesthesia databases, the incidences of serious complications related to obstetric anesthesia remain unknown. The Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology developed the Serious Complication Repository Project to establish the incidence of serious complications related to obstetric anesthesia and to identify risk factors associated with each.

Methods:

Serious complications were defined by the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology Research Committee which also coordinated the study. Thirty institutions participated in the approximately 5-yr study period. Data were collected as part of institutional quality assurance and sent to the central project coordinator quarterly.

Results:

Data were captured on more than 257,000 anesthetics, including 5,000 general anesthetics for cesarean delivery. There were 157 total serious complications reported, 85 of which were anesthesia related. High neuraxial block, respiratory arrest in labor and delivery, and unrecognized spinal catheter were the most frequent complications encountered. A serious complication occurs in approximately 1:3,000 (1:2,443 to 1:3,782) obstetric anesthetics.

Conclusions:

The Serious Complication Repository Project establishes the incidence of serious complications in obstetric anesthesia. Because serious complications related to obstetric anesthesia are rare, there were too few complications in each category to identify risk factors associated with each. However, because many of these complications can lead to catastrophic outcomes, it is recommended that the anesthesia provider remains vigilant and be prepared to rapidly diagnose and treat any complication.

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