Both general and regional anaesthesia (spinal, epidural or combined spinal and epidural anaesthesia) are acceptable for use during caesarean section.
Regional anaesthesia is preferred as it allows the mother to be awake and interact immediately with her baby. Other advantages of regional anesthesia include the absence of typical risks of general anesthesia: pulmonary aspiration (which has a relatively high incidence in patients undergoing anesthesia in late pregnancy) of gastric contents and Oesophageal intubation.
Regional anaesthesia during caesarean section is different to the analgesia (pain relief) used in labor and vaginal delivery. The pain that is experienced because of surgery is greater than that of labor and therefore requires a more intense nerve block. The dermatomal level of anesthesia required for caesarean delivery is also higher than that required for labor analgesia.
General anesthesia may be necessary because of specific risks to mother or child. Patients with heavy, uncontrolled bleeding may not tolerate the hemodynamic effects of regional anesthesia. General anesthesia is also preferred in very urgent cases, such as severe fetal distress, when there is no time to perform a regional anesthesia.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011