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2023 Jan 05

Am J Perinatol

Neuraxial Anesthesia during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Report from a large academic medical center.


Ogunkua OT, Adhikari EH, Gasanova I, Jalloh MN, Syed SS, Pruszynski JE, Spong CY
Am J Perinatol. 2023 Jan 05.
PMID: 36603831.


Objective Three primary neuraxial techniques reduce labor pain: epidural, dural puncture epidural (DPE), and combined spinal-epidural (CSE). This study aims to determine whether neuraxial analgesia techniques changed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that a dural puncture confirms neuraxial placement, we hypothesized that DPE was more frequent in women with concerns for COVID-19. Study Design A single-center retrospective cohort study comparing neuraxial analgesia techniques for labor and delivery pain management before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and in patients with and without SARS-CoV-2 at a maternity hospital in Dallas, Texas, with a large delivery service. Statistical analyses included the Chi-square test for categorical and Kruskal-Wallis test for nonparametric ordinal comparisons. The Cochran- Mantel-Haenszel test was used to assess the association between neuraxial technique and accidental dural puncture or postdural puncture headache. Results Of 10,971 patients who received neuraxial analgesia for labor, 5528 were delivered in 2019 and 5443 in 2020. Epidural analgesia was the most common neuraxial technique for labor pain in 2019 and 2020. There was no difference in the frequency of neuraxial analgesia techniques or the rates of accidental dural puncture or postdural puncture headaches comparing all deliveries in 2019 to 2020. Despite a significant increase in dural puncture epidurals relative to epidurals in the SARS-CoV-2-positive group compared with the SARS-CoV-2-negative group in 2020, there was no significant difference in postdural puncture headaches or accidental dural punctures. Conclusion The advantages of a dural puncture epidural, specifically the ability to confirm epidural placement using a small gauge spinal needle, likely led to an increase in the placement of this neuraxial in SARS-CoV-2-positive patients. There was no effect on the frequency of postdural puncture headaches or accidental dural punctures within the same period.