Respiratory Depression After Neuraxial Opioids in the Obstetric Setting

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Abstract

Neuraxial opioids have contributed significantly to improved labor and postcesarean delivery analgesia. In the obstetric population, epidural and intrathecal opioids are associated with a very low risk of clinically significant respiratory depression. Although rare, respiratory depression is a serious risk; patients may die or suffer permanent brain damage as a consequence. This review discusses the mechanism and incidence, as well as the prevention, detection, and management of respiratory depression with morphine, extended-release epidural morphine, and lipophilic opioids in the labor and cesarean delivery setting.

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