Choice of Anesthesia for Cesarean Delivery

Juang, J. et al. Anesthesia & Analgesia. Published online: January 16 2017

L0028350 An anaesthetist standing, his equipment behind him. Colour l

Image source: Virginia Powell – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Neuraxial anesthesia use in cesarean deliveries (CDs) has been rising since the 1980s, whereas general anesthesia (GA) use has been declining.

In this brief report we analyzed recent obstetric anesthesia practice patterns using National Anesthesiology Clinical Outcomes Registry data. Approximately 218,285 CD cases were identified between 2010 and 2015. GA was used in 5.8% of all CDs and 14.6% of emergent CDs.

Higher rates of GA use were observed in CDs performed in university hospitals, after hours and on weekends, and on patients who were American Society of Anesthesiologists class III or higher and 18 years of age or younger.

Read the abstract here

Current issues in postoperative pain management

Rawal, Narinder. European Journal of Anaesthesiology: March 2016 – Volume 33 – Issue 3 – p 160–171


Postoperative pain has been poorly managed for decades. Recent surveys from USA and Europe do not show any major improvement. Persistent postoperative pain is common after most surgical procedures, and after thoracotomy and mastectomy, about 50% of patients may experience it. Opioids remain the mainstay of postoperative pain treatment in spite of strong evidence of their drawbacks. Multimodal analgesic techniques are widely used but new evidence is disappointing. Regional anaesthetic techniques are the most effective methods to treat postoperative pain.

Current evidence suggests that epidural analgesia can no longer be considered the ‘gold standard’. Perineural techniques are good alternatives for major orthopaedic surgery but remain underused. Infiltrative techniques with or without catheters are useful for almost all types of surgery. Simple surgeon-delivered local anaesthetic techniques such as wound infiltration, preperitoneal/intraperitoneal administration, transversus abdominis plane block and local infiltration analgesia can play a significant role in improvement of postoperative care, and the last of these has changed orthopaedic practice in many institutions.

Current postoperative pain management guidelines are generally ‘one size fits all’. It is well known that pain characteristics such as type, location, intensity and duration vary considerably after different surgical procedures. Procedure-specific postoperative pain management recommendations are evidence based, and also take into consideration the role of anaesthetic and surgical techniques, clinical routines and risk–benefit aspects. The role of acute pain services to improve pain management and outcome is well accepted but implementation seems challenging.

The need for upgrading the role of surgical ward nurses and collaboration with surgeons to implement enhanced recovery after surgery protocols with regular audits to improve postoperative outcome cannot be overstated.

Read the abstract here

Cervical epidural analgesia in current anaesthesia practice: systematic review of its clinical utility and rationale, and technical considerations

Shanthanna, H. et al. British Journal of  Anaesthesia (2016) 116 (2): 192-207.


Image source: Amin Ashaari

Cervical epidural analgesia (CEA) is an analgesic technique, potentially useful for surgeries involving the upper body. Despite the inherent technical risks and systemic changes, it has been used for various surgeries. There have been no previously published systematic reviews aimed at assessing its clinical utility. This systematic review was performed to explore the perioperative benefits of CEA. The review was also aimed at identifying the rationale of its use, reported surgical indications and the method of use.

We performed a literature search involving PubMed and Embase databases, to identify studies using CEA for surgical indications. Out of 467 potentially relevant articles, 73 articles were selected. Two independent investigators extracted data involving 5 randomized controlled trials, 17 observational comparative trials, and 51 case reports (series). The outcomes studied in most comparative studies were on effects of local anaesthetics and other agents, systemic effects, and feasibility of CEA. In one randomized controlled study, CEA was observed to decrease the resting pain scores after pharyngo-laryngeal surgeries. In a retrospective study, CEA was shown to decrease the cancer recurrence after pharyngeal-hypopharyngeal surgeries.

The limited evidence, small studies, and the chosen outcomes do not allow for any specific recommendations based on the relative benefit or harm of CEA. Considering the potential for significant harm, in the face of better alternatives, its use must have a strong rationale mostly supported by unique patient and surgical demands. Future studies must aim to assess analgesic comparator effectiveness for clinically relevant outcomes.

Read the abstract here