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Conversion of regional to general anaesthesia at caesarean section: increasing the use of regional anaesthesia through continuous prospective audit



Conversion of regional to general anaesthesia at caesarean section: increasing the use of regional anaesthesia through continuous prospective audit



International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia 19(2): 179-182



Anaesthetic-related maternal deaths have largely been attributed to complications of general anaesthesia. In our unit a retrospective audit conducted between 1997 and 2002 showed a 9.4% conversion rate to general anaesthesia for caesarean sections amongst women with epidural catheters in-situ. The Royal College of Anaesthetists has stated that <3% of cases should need conversion to general anaesthesia. To improve our figures, from 2004 to 2007 we prospectively audited all caesarean sections requiring general anaesthesia. Data were collected on the number of caesarean sections, initial anaesthetic technique used, need for conversion either pre- or intra-operatively and the use of labour epidural analgesia, where an epidural had been in-situ. There were 2273 caesarean sections during the audit period. Neuraxial anaesthesia rates were for elective cases 95.3% (2004), 96.3% (2005), 98.3% (2006) and 98.2% (2007) and for emergency cases 82.3% (2004), 88.6% (2005), 87.0% (2006) and 85.7% (2007). Common reasons given for not using a regional technique were urgency of delivery (category 1) or anticipated large blood loss. Conversion rates from regional to general anaesthesia for elective cases were 0.8% (2004), 2.5% (2005), 0.5% (2006) and 0% (2007), and for emergencies 7.8% (2004), 2.7% (2005), 3.7% (2006) and 5.4% (2007). Improvements were seen in all but category-1 caesarean sections. Prospective audit has been associated with improved rates for neuraxial anaesthesia and reduced need for conversion to general anaesthesia in all but category-1 caesarean sections. The Royal College of Anaesthetists standards may need to be reviewed to become category-specific.

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Accession: 052340467

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 20199859

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijoa.2009.08.008


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