Pregnancy-related Increases in Sensory Perception Thresholds Are Not Correlated with Serum Progesterone Levels

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BackgroundWhy pregnant women require smaller doses of anesthetic agents still remains speculative. One hypothesis proposes that pregnancy raises sensory perception thresholds, perhaps through a progesterone-mediated effect. This study was undertaken in order to quantify any changes in sensory perception thresholds after parturition and to correlate these changes with the expected decrease in postpartum serum progesterone levels.MethodsNineteen gravid women scheduled to undergo an elective Cesarean section consented to participate. Sensory current perception threshold (CPT) testing was performed before and 7 days after an elective Cesarean section. CPT was defined as the minimum amount of constant current stimulation that can be reproducibly detected at a particular frequency. CPT values were determined on the distal phalanx of the nondominant index finger at 2000 Hz, 250 Hz, and 5 Hz monofrequency stimulation. Seven women permitted serum progesterone level determinations at the prepartum and the postpartum CPT testing sessions.ResultsParturition resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the sensory CPT at all 3 frequencies tested, (p < 0.05). However, there was no significant correlation between the postpartum reduction in serum progesterone levels and the observed postpartum decrease in CPT for any frequency, (r < 0.5).ConclusionsCPTs are significantly reduced after parturition. However, this reduction does not appear to be significantly correlated with the reduction in serum progesterone levels.

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