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Prophylactic phenylephrine and fluid co-administration to reduce spinal hypotension during elective caesarean section in a resource-limited setting: a prospective alternating intervention study.

  • Buthelezi, A S1
  • Bishop, D G1
  • Rodseth, R N1, 2
  • Dyer, R A3
  • 1 Metropolitan Department of Anaesthetics, Critical Care and Pain Management, Pietermaritzburg and School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. , (South Africa)
  • 2 Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA.
  • 3 Department of Anaesthesia and Peri-operative Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa. , (South Africa)
Published Article
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Dec 06, 2019
DOI: 10.1111/anae.14950
PMID: 31811659


Spinal hypotension is a common and clinically important problem during caesarean section. Current consensus recommendations for resource-rich settings suggest the use of a titrated phenylephrine infusion, in combination with fluid coloading, for prevention of maternal hypotension. In resource-limited settings, where syringe drivers are unavailable, these recommendations advise the addition of 500 μg phenylephrine to the first 1 l of intravenous fluid given after initiation of spinal anaesthesia, with additional vasopressor boluses as required. This prospective, alternating intervention study compared the use of a conventional phenylephrine rescue bolus strategy for prevention of hypotension, defined as systolic arterial pressure < 90 mmHg, with a phenylephrine infusion given according to the consensus recommendation. We studied 300 women having elective caesarean section. There were 77 (51%) women who developed hypotension in the bolus group vs. 55 (37%) in the phenylephrine infusion group (p = 0.011). This represented a 29% reduction in hypotension, with a number needed to treat of 6.8. The six highest systolic arterial pressure readings occurred in the phenylephrine infusion group (range 166-188 mmHg), and there were four instances of bradycardia (heart rate < 50 beats.min-1 ) with preserved systolic arterial pressure in each group. There were no adverse clinical sequelae, and no differences in neonatal Apgar scores in either group. The consensus recommendation for phenylephrine and fluid co-administration in resource-limited settings appears effective in preventing maternal hypotension, but at the cost of sporadic systolic hypertension. © 2019 Association of Anaesthetists.

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