A Quantitative, Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of Ephedrine Versus Phenylephrine for the Management of Hypotension During Spinal Anesthesia for Cesarean Delivery

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This quantitative systematic review compared the efficacy and safety of ephedrine with phenylephrine for the prevention and treatment of hypotension during spinal anesthesia for cesarean delivery. Seven randomized controlled trials (n = 292) were identified after a systematic search of electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Controlled Trials Registry), published articles, and contact with authors. Outcomes assessed were maternal hypotension, hypertension and bradycardia, and neonatal umbilical cord blood pH values and Apgar scores. For the management (prevention and treatment) of maternal hypotension, there was no difference between phenylephrine and ephedrine (relative risk [RR] of 1.00; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.96–1.06). Maternal bradycardia was more likely to occur with phenylephrine than with ephedrine (RR of 4.79; 95% CI, 1.47–15.60). Women given phenylephrine had neonates with higher umbilical arterial pH values than those given ephedrine (weighted mean difference of 0.03; 95% CI, 0.02–0.04). There was no difference between the two vasopressors in the incidence of true fetal acidosis (umbilical arterial pH value of <7.2; RR of 0.78; 95% CI, 0.16–3.92) or Apgar score of <7 at 1 and 5 min. This systematic review does not support the traditional idea that ephedrine is the preferred choice for the management of maternal hypotension during spinal anesthesia for elective cesarean delivery in healthy, nonlaboring women.

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