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2020 Sep 17

Hong Kong Med J

Labour analgesia: update and literature review.


Lam KK, Leung MKM, Irwin MG
Hong Kong Med J. 2020 Sep 17.
PMID: 32943586.


Pain relief is an important component of modern obstetric care and can be produced by neuraxial, systemic, or inhalational analgesia or various physical techniques. We review the most recent evidence on the efficacy and safety of these techniques. Over the past decade, the availability of safer local anaesthetics, ultra-short acting opioids, combined spinal-epidural needles, patient-controlled analgesic devices, and ultrasound have revolutionised obstetric regional analgesia. Recent meta-analyses have supported epidural analgesia as the most efficacious technique, as it leads to higher maternal satisfaction and good maternal and fetal safety profiles. We examine the controversies and myths concerning the initiation, maintenance, and discontinuation of epidural analgesia. Recent evidence will also be reviewed to address concerns about the effects of epidural analgesia on the rates of instrumental and operative delivery, lower back pain, and breastfeeding. New developments in labour analgesia are also discussed.