The aetiology and management of hypotension during spinal anaesthesia for caesarean delivery

Robert A. Dyer, Michelle J. Arcache and Eldrid Langesaeter

in Oxford Textbook of Obstetric Anaesthesia

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print September 2016 | ISBN: 9780198713333
Published online October 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191819759 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbook in Anaesthesia

The aetiology and management of hypotension during spinal anaesthesia for caesarean delivery

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The management of hypotension during spinal anaesthesia for caesarean delivery remains a challenge for anaesthesiologists. Close control of maternal haemodynamics is of great importance for maternal and fetal safety, as well as maternal comfort. Haemodynamic responses to spinal anaesthesia are influenced by aortocaval compression, the baricity and dose of local anaesthetic and opioid employed, the rational use of fluids, and the goal-directed use of vasopressors. The most common response to spinal anaesthesia is hypotension and an increased heart rate, which reflects a decreased systemic vascular resistance and a partial compensatory increase in cardiac output. Phenylephrine is therefore the vasopressor of choice in this scenario. Less commonly, hypotension and bradycardia may occur, possibly due to the activation of cardiac reflexes. This requires anticholinergics and/or ephedrine. The rarest occurrences are persistent refractory hypotension, or high spinal block with respiratory failure. Special considerations include patients with severe pre-eclampsia, in whom spinal anaesthesia is associated with haemodynamic stability, and less hypotension than in the healthy patient. Careful use of neuraxial anaesthesia in specialized centres has an important role to play in the management of patients with cardiac disease, in conjunction with careful monitoring. Prevention is better than cure, but should hypotension occur, rapid intervention is essential, based upon the exact clinical scenario and individual haemodynamic response.

Chapter.  13858 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anaesthetics ; Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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