Comparison of Metaraminol and Ephedrine Infusions for Maintaining Arterial Pressure during Spinal Anesthesia for Elective Cesarean Section

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Although ephedrine is usually recommended as the first-line vasopressor in obstetrics, its superiority over other vasopressors has not been proven in humans.


In a double-blind study, the authors randomized women having elective cesarean section with spinal anesthesia to receive an intravenous infusion of ephedrine, starting at 5 mg/min (n = 25), or metaraminol, starting at 0.25 mg/min (n = 25), titrated to maintain systolic arterial pressure in the target range 90–100% of baseline. Umbilical cord gases, maternal hemodynamics, uterine artery pulsatility index, and Apgar scores were compared.


Systolic arterial pressure was maintained more closely in the target range in the metaraminol group compared with the ephedrine group. In the metaraminol group, umbilical arterial p H was greater (median and interquartile range, 7.31 and 7.31–7.33 vs. 7.24 and 7.14–7.29;P < 0.0001), and umbilical venous p H was greater (7.36 and 7.35–7.38 vs. 7.33 and 7.26–7.34;P < 0.0001) compared with the ephedrine group. No patient in the metaraminol group had umbilical arterial p H less than 7.2, compared with nine patients (39%) in the ephedrine group (P = 0.0005). Apgar scores were similar between groups. Changes in uterine artery pulsatility index were similar between groups.


When used by infusion to maintain arterial pressure during spinal anesthesia for cesarean section, metaraminol was associated with less neonatal acidosis and more closely controlled titration of arterial pressure compared with ephedrine.

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