The effects of epidural analgesia for labor and delivery using a continuous infusion technique on fetal heart rate, uterine activity, maternal blood pressure, Apgar scores, neonatal acid-base status, and the Neurologic and Adaptive Capacity Scoring System were studied in 61 parturients. Group I (n = 23) received initial test and therapeutic doses of 2 and 6 ml of 0.5% bupivacaine followed by an infusion of 0.125% at a rate of 14 ml/hr. Group II (n = 19) received 2 and 6 ml of 2% chloroprocaine followed by an infusion of 0.75% at a rate of 27 ml/hr. Group III (n = 19) received 2 and 6 ml of 1.5% lidocaine followed by an infusion of 0.75% at a rate of 14 ml/hr. None of the three local anesthetics used had any significant effect on baseline fetal heart rate or uterine activity. In cases in which monitoring of fetal heart rate was both technically satisfactory and continuous, late and variable decelerations in fetal heart rate were seen in 10 of 17, 3 of 18, and 2 of 19 of the fetuses in groups I, II, and III, respectively. The incidence was significantly higher in group I than in groups II or III (P < 0.05). Apgar scores and neonatal acid-base status were equally good in all three groups. Neurologic and adaptive capacity scores did not differ among the three groups of neonates, nor did any of the neonates in the three groups score lower than a control group of 19 neonates whose mothers did not receive any analgesia or medications for labor and delivery. It is concluded that continuous infusion epidural analgesia provides good maternal analgesia without detrimental effect on the baseline fetal heart rate, uterine activity, or the neurologic and adaptive capacity scores of the neonate, and that bupivacaine is associated with a higher incidence of what appears to be abnormalities of fetal heart rate.
Address correspondence to Dr. Abboud, LAC-USC Medical Center, Box 12, 1200 North State Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033.
© 1984 International Anesthesia Research Society