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The use of 0.25% isoflurane premixed in 50% nitrous oxide and oxygen for pain relief in labour

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The addition of 0.25% isoflurane to 50% nitrous oxide in oxygen provides more effective pain relief in labour than 50% nitrous oxide alone. This study was carried out to determine whether self-administration by demand valve of 0.25% isoflurane in 50% nitrous oxide in oxygen premixed in cylinders at 13.7 MPa (IN2O) was practical and safe during labour. Two hundred and twenty-one mothers used IN2O in labour after 50% nitrous oxide had become inadequate for pain relief. Data on IN2O use was recorded during labour and details of the course of labour and opioid usage were taken from the clinical notes. The duration of IN2O use was 0.1–12.35 h (median 2.3). Thirty-two mothers (14.5%) required an epidural and intolerance to IN2O was seen in a maximum of 17 cases (7.7%). One hundred and twenty-six cases were primiparous and 93 parous with 151 deliveries being spontaneous and 70 interventional, of which 12 were by Caesarean section. Maternal blood loss was 20–1500 ml (median 200 ml). Apgar scores at 1 and 5 min were unaffected by IN2O use although a positive correlation was found between the use of opioids and the number of neonates with a 1-min score below 8 and the number requiring resuscitation. Six neonates had an Apgar score below 8 at 5 min, but their condition was adequately explained by factors other than the sedative technique used. Self-administered IN2O was found to be a safe and practical technique for sedation in labour when 50% nitrous oxide alone had become inadequate.
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Keywords: Anaesthetics, inhalation; Labour; nitrous oxide, isoflurane

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK, 2: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Aberdeen, UK, 3: Computing Centre, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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