The effect of low concentrations versus high concentrations of local anesthetics for labour analgesia on obstetric and anesthetic outcomes: a meta-analysis CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ANESTHESIA-JOURNAL CANADIEN D ANESTHESIE Sultan, P., Murphy, C., Halpern, S., Carvalho, B. 2013; 60 (9): 840-854


The influence that different concentrations of labour epidural local anesthetic have on assisted vaginal delivery (AVD) and many obstetric outcomes and side effects is uncertain. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to determine whether local anesthetics utilized at low concentrations (LCs) during labour are associated with a decreased incidence of AVD when compared with high concentrations (HCs).We searched PubMed, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus,, and Cochrane databases for randomized controlled trials of labouring patients that compared LCs (defined as = 0.1% epidural bupivacaine or = 0.17% ropivacaine) of epidural local anesthetic with HCs for maintenance of analgesia. The primary outcome was AVD and secondary outcomes included Cesarean delivery, duration of labour, analgesia, side effects (nausea and vomiting, motor block, hypotension, pruritus, and urinary retention), and neonatal outcomes. The odds ratios (OR) or weighted mean differences (WMD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using random effects modelling. An OR < 1 or a WMD < 0 favoured LCs.Eleven studies met our criteria (eight bupivacaine and three ropivacaine studies), providing 1,145 patients in the LCs group and 852 patients in the HCs group for analysis of the primary outcome. Low concentrations were associated with a reduction in the incidence of AVD (OR = 0.70; 95% CI 0.56 to 0.86; P < 0.001). There was no difference in the incidence of Cesarean delivery (OR 1.05; 95% CI 0.82 to 1.33; P = 0.7). The LCs group had less motor block (OR 3.9; 95% CI 1.59 to 9.55; P = 0.003), greater ambulation (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.1 to 7.14; P = 0.03), less urinary retention (OR 0.42; 95% CI 0.23 to 0.73; P = 0.002), and a shorter second stage of labour (WMD -14.03; 95% CI -27.52 to -0.55; P = 0.04) compared with the HCs group. There were no differences between groups in pain scores, maternal nausea and vomiting, hypotension, fetal heart rate abnormalities, five-minute Apgar scores, and need for neonatal resuscitation. One-minute Apgar scores < 7 favoured the HCs group (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.07 to 2.21; P = 0.02), and there was more pruritus in the LCs group (OR 3.36; 95% CI 1.00 to 11.31; P = 0.05).When compared with HCs of local anesthetics, the use of LCs for labour epidural analgesia reduces the incidence of AVD. This may be due to a reduction in the amount of local anesthetic used and the subsequent decrease in motor blockade. We therefore recommend the use of LCs of local anesthetics for epidural analgesia to optimize obstetric outcome.

View details for DOI 10.1007/s12630-013-9981-z

View details for Web of Science ID 000323340700002

View details for PubMedID 23925722