oa Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia - Low-dose spinal anaesthesia provides effective labour analgesia and does not limit ambulation : research
Background: While epidural analgesia for labour pain is standard in high-resource countries, minimal to no analgesia is usually provided in low-resource countries. Intrathecal local anaesthetics provide good pain relief, but the potential impact on ambulation is of concern. Our objective was to determine if a low-dose local anaesthetic combined with an opioid would provide reasonable pain relief, while allowing ambulation in a low-resource setting.
Method: This prospective, observational study was conducted at the Tamale Teaching Hospital in Tamale, Ghana. Spinal analgesia was administered to healthy women in labour using a pencil-point 25-G spinal needle at the L3-L4 or L4-L5 interspace, with patients in the sitting position. The intrathecal mixture contained 25 µg of fentanyl, 2.5 mg of bupivacaine and 0.2 mg of morphine. The patient's ability to ambulate following the administration of a low-dose spinal injection was the primary outcome measured. Pain ratings, blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, pruritus, headaches and foetal bradycardia were also recorded.
Results: Three hundred and thirty-two parturients consented to participate. Following spinal injection, 328 women (98.8%) experienced mild to no pain, and 4 (1.2%) moderate pain. The administration of spinal analgesia had no effect on ambulation in 291 (87.7%) patients, and a mild effect in 41 (12.3%) patients. Intrathecal analgesia did not severely limit ambulation in any of the patients.
Conclusion: Low-dose intrathecal analgesia can provide effective analgesia for labouring patients in low-resource settings without limiting ambulation.
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