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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb 28


Obstetric analgesia and anaesthesia in SARS-CoV-2-positive parturients across 10 maternity units in the north-west of England: a retrospective cohort study.


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, few studies have reported anaesthetic outcomes in parturients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. We reviewed the labour analgesic and anaesthetic interventions utilised in symptomatic and asymptomatic parturients who had a confirmed positive test for SARS-CoV-2 across 10 hospitals in the north-west of England between 1 April 2020 and 31 May 2021. Primary outcomes analysed included the analgesic/anaesthetic technique utilised for labour and caesarean birth. Secondary outcomes included a comparison of maternal characteristics, caesarean birth rate, maternal critical care admission rate along with adverse composite neonatal outcomes. A positive SARS-CoV-2 test was recorded in 836 parturients with 263 (31.4%) reported to have symptoms of COVID-19. Neuraxial labour analgesia was utilised in 104 (20.4%) of the 509 parturients who went on to have a vaginal birth. No differences in epidural analgesia rates were observed between symptomatic and asymptomatic parturients (OR 1.03, 95%CI 0.64-1.67; p = 0.90). The neuraxial anaesthesia rate in 310 parturients who underwent caesarean delivery was 94.2% (95%CI 90.6-96.0%). The rates of general anaesthesia were similar in symptomatic and asymptomatic parturients (6% vs. 5.7%; p = 0.52). Symptomatic parturients were more likely to be multiparous (OR 1.64, 95%CI 1.19-2.22; p = 0.002); of Asian ethnicity (OR 1.54, 1.04-2.28; p = 0.03); to deliver prematurely (OR 2.16, 95%CI 1.47-3.19; p = 0.001); have a higher caesarean birth rate (44.5% vs. 33.7%; OR 1.57, 95%CI 1.16-2.12; p = 0.008); and a higher critical care utilisation rate both pre- (8% vs. 0%, p = 0.001) and post-delivery (11% vs. 3.5%; OR 3.43, 95%CI 1.83-6.52; p = 0.001). Eight neonates tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 while no differences in adverse composite neonatal outcomes were observed between those born to symptomatic and asymptomatic mothers (25.8% vs. 23.8%; OR 1.11, 95%CI 0.78-1.57; p = 0.55). In women with COVID-19, non-neuraxial analgesic regimens were commonly utilised for labour while neuraxial anaesthesia was employed for the majority of caesarean births. Symptomatic women with COVID-19 are at increased risk of significant maternal morbidity including preterm birth, caesarean birth and peripartum critical care admission.