Epidural block with ropivacaine and bupivacaine for elective caesarean section: maternal cardiovascular parameters, comfort and neonatal well-being

Sandra Kampe, Brigitte Tausch, Matthias Paul, Stefan-Mario Kasper, Klaus Bauer, Christoph Diefenbach, Peter Kiencke
Current Medical Research and Opinion 2004, 20 (1): 7-12

OBJECTIVE: To determine cardiovascular effects and neonatal outcome of ropivacaine 0.75% and bupivacaine 0.5% for elective epidural caesarean section.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Healthy pregnant women, scheduled for elective caesarean section, were enrolled in this randomised, double-blind study. Epidural block was obtained with 20-30 ml of ropivacaine 0.75% (Group R) or bupivacaine 0.5% (Group B) and surgery did not commence until anaesthesia was achieved bilaterally to T6.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Maternal heart rate and blood pressure were assessed before the main dose of local anaesthetic and at 5-min intervals until 35 min. Neonatal umbilical pH and Apgar scores were determined after delivery. Ten, twenty and thirty minutes after the main dose, sensory and motor block characteristics were determined. Quality of analgesia was assessed by the anaesthetist, surgeon and the patient. Adverse events were recorded.

RESULTS: Sixty-two patients were enrolled and the data of 60 of them were eligible for analysis: 31 in Group R and 29 in Group B. The area under the curve (AUC) for maternal heart rate decreased significantly less in Group B than in Group R (p = 0.038). Twenty-five and thirty minutes after administration of the main local anaesthetic dose, heart rate decreased significantly less in Group B than in Group R (p = 0.006 and p = 0.007). There was no difference in AUC for maternal blood pressure (p = 0.32). Repeated measurement analysis showed no difference between groups in motor block (p = 0.78) and in spread of the sensory block (lower level: p = 0.83, upper level: p = 0.88). There was no statistical difference in neonatal umbilical pH (p = 0.22) and Apgar score (p = 0.59). Multiple linear regression analysis showed a significant influence of maternal body mass index on neonatal pH (p = 0.004), but not of maternal blood pressure (p = 0.323), nor of maternal heart rate (p = 0.12). The quality of analgesia and incidence of adverse events were similar in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Both drugs produced equally satisfactory epidural block. Although ropivacaine 0.75% resulted in a greater decrease of maternal heart rate, this effect did not influence neonatal well-being. Both ropivacaine 0.75% and bupivacaine 0.5% can therefore be recommended for epidural anaesthesia in elective caesarean section.

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