Published on February 28, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Despite previous studies, the relative advantages of these options for labor analgesia have been unclear. The new study is the first to directly compare epidural versus CSE for labor analgesia in a busy private maternity hospital.
The results suggest that CSE provides significantly faster and better pain relief during the first stage of labor, compared to the traditional epidural technique. The differences in pain control during early labor are small but significant, Dr Gambling and colleagues note. They write, "[W]hen one considers the fact that fewer top-up doses were required to achieve the improvement in analgesia, it would seem that on balance CSE is the superior technique for first-stage analgesia."
But that doesn't mean that CSE is always the better choice, according to an accompanying editorial by Drs Jessica L. Booth and Peter H. Pan of Wake Forest University School of Medicine. They write, "The findings…highlight that fact that both CSE and epidural analgesia are an excellent analgesic option during labor." Drs Booth and Pan believe that inconsistent results reported by previous studies "may be explained, in part, by the lack of a standard CSE or epidural technique."
Source: Anesthesia & Analgesia