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A randomised single-blind controlled study was made of 60 patients to evaluate the effectiveness of epidural patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device for obstetric management compared with a continuous infusion system. In both cases 0.125% plain bupivacaine was used. It was found that epidural PCA is at least as effective as an infusion system in producing analgesia and has the advantages of increased satisfaction and reduction of local anaesthetic requirement. Whether there are also advantages resulting from less obstetric intervention at delivery has not been proven.