Effect of Epidural Infusion Bolus Delivery Rate on the Duration of Labor Analgesia: A Randomized Clinical Trial

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Programmed intermittent boluses of local anesthetic have been shown to be superior to continuous infusions for maintenance of labor analgesia. High-rate epidural boluses increase delivery pressure at the catheter orifice and may improve drug distribution in the epidural space. We hypothesized that high-rate drug delivery would improve labor analgesia and reduce the requirement for provider-administered supplemental boluses for breakthrough pain.


Nulliparous women with a singleton pregnancy at a cervical dilation of less than or equal to 5 cm at request for neuraxial analgesia were eligible for this superiority-design, double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Neuraxial analgesia was initiated with intrathecal fentanyl 25 μg. The maintenance epidural solution was bupivacaine 0.625 mg/ml with fentanyl 1.95 μg/ml. Programmed (every 60 min) intermittent boluses (10 ml) and patient controlled bolus (5 ml bolus, lockout interval: 10 min) were administered at a rate of 100 ml/h (low-rate) or 300 ml/h (high-rate). The primary outcome was percentage of patients requiring provider-administered supplemental bolus analgesia.


One hundred eight women were randomized to the low- and 102 to the high-rate group. Provider-administered supplemental bolus doses were requested by 44 of 108 (40.7%) in the low- and 37 of 102 (36.3%) in the high-rate group (difference –4.4%; 95% CI of the difference, –18.5 to 9.1%; P = 0.67). Patient requested/delivered epidural bolus ratio and the hourly bupivacaine consumption were not different between groups. No subject had an adverse event.


Labor analgesia quality, assessed by need for provider- and patient-administered supplemental analgesia and hourly bupivacaine consumption was not improved by high-rate epidural bolus administration.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles