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Neurologic sequelae after caesarean section

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Because pregnancy increases the sensitivity of nervous tissue to local anaesthetics, pregnant patients may be at higher risk of developing neurologic deficits after spinal block than non-pregnant patients. Therefore, we evaluated prospectively the incidence and type of neurologic symptoms after spinal anaesthesia with hyperbaric bupivacaine for caesarean section. Methods:

In this prospective follow-up study we recorded neurologic complications during anaesthesia and postoperatively until discharge from the hospital of 219 patients, who underwent caesarean section under spinal anaesthesia with hyperbaric bupivacaine (5 mg/ml, mean 13 mg). The patients filled in a questionnaire on the first and fifth postoperative days. In the case of complaints typical of neurologic symptoms they were checked first by the anaesthesiologist and, in the case of persistent symptoms, afterwards additionally by a neurologist. Results:

Twenty-six of 219 patients were not included in the further evaluation because of incomplete return of their questionnaires. Seventeen mothers (8.8%) complained of transient neurologic symptoms (TNSs), lasting mostly 1–2 days, in the buttocks and/or legs during the first three postoperative days. Eleven patients (5.7%) complained of postdural puncture headache. Two patients (emergency caesarean section because of protracted labour in one and elective caesarean section because of previous caesarean section in the other) complained of persisting pain or sensory abnormalities. Neither of them felt paraesthesia during lumbar puncture. Conclusion:

Women after caesarean section under a spinal block seem to suffer more often from TNSs than non-pregnant women. The conclusions are, however, uncertain since we had no control group operated on under other than spinal anaesthesia. The persisting neurologic symptoms in two patients might also be due to the obstetric procedure itself. To find out about the validity and possible underlying causes of our results, we need randomised studies with control groups receiving epidural or general anaesthesia.
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Keywords: Anesthetic technique: spinal anesthesia; anesthetics; local: bupivacaine; hyperbaric; complications: neurologic; surgery: cesarean section

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Anaesthesiology, 2: Neurology, and 3: Medical School, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland 4: Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, and

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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