Ringer’s Lactate Versus Normal Saline in Urgent Cesarean Delivery in a Resource-Limited Setting: A Pragmatic Clinical Trial

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Crystalloids are used routinely for perioperative fluid management in cesarean delivery. Few studies have determined the crystalloid of choice in obstetric anesthesia. We compared the effects of Ringer’s lactate (RL) versus 0.9% normal saline (NS) on maternal and neonatal blood pH and 24-hour postoperative morbidity in urgent cesarean delivery in a low-resource setting. Our hypothesis was that RL would result in 30% less acidosis than NS.

METHODS:

This was a pragmatic prospective double-blind randomized controlled trial in the Mulago National Referral Hospital Labor Ward Theater from September 2011 to May 2012. Five hundred parturients were studied; 252 were randomly assigned to NS and 248 to RL groups. Preoperative and postoperative maternal venous blood gases and placental umbilical arterial cord blood gases were analyzed. The primary outcome was incidence of maternal acidosis, as defined by a postoperative drop in venous pH below 7.32 or reduction in base excess below −3 in a previously normal parturient. Maternal 24-hour postoperative morbidity, neonatal pH, and neonatal base excess were the main secondary outcomes. The study was registered in ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT01585740.

RESULTS:

The overall incidence of maternal acidosis was 38% in NS and 29% in RL (relative risk, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.01–1.66; P = .04). Thirty-two percent of parturients in NS experienced a drop in venous pH below 7.32 postoperatively, compared with 19% in RL (relative risk, 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.18–2.31; P = .003). The comparative drop in base excess postoperatively below −3 between the 2 groups was not statistically significant. There were no significant differences in the incidence of maternal 24-hour postoperative morbidity events and neonatal outcomes between the 2 groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

NS may be a safe choice for intraoperative fluid therapy in urgent cesarean delivery as RL, albeit with an increased incidence of metabolic acidosis.

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