Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Clinical Research

Epidural analgesia in the obese obstetric patient: a retrospective and comparative study with non-obese patients at a tertiary hospital

Analgesia peridural em paciente obstétrica obesa: estudo retrospectivo e comparativo com pacientes não obesas em hospital terciário

Claudia Cuesta González-Tascón, Elena Gredilla Díaz, Itsaso Losantos García

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Background and objectives
Obesity is becoming a frequent condition among obstetric patients. A high body mass index (BMI) has been closely related to a higher difficulty to perform the neuraxial technique and to the failure of epidural analgesia. Our study is aimed at analyzing obese obstetric patients who received neuraxial analgesia for labor at a tertiary hospital and assessing aspects related to the technique and its success.

Retrospective observational descriptive study during one year. Women with a BMI higher than 30 were identified, and variables related to the difficulty and complications of performing the technique, and to analgesia failure rate were assessed.

Results and conclusions
Out of 3653 patients, 27.4% had their BMI ≥ 30 kg.m-². Neuraxial techniques are difficult to be performed in obese obstetric patients, as showed by the number of puncture attempts (≥ 3 in 9.1% obese versus 5.3% in non-obese being p < 0.001), but the incidence of complications, as hematic puncture (6.6%) and accidental dural puncture (0.7%) seems to be similar in both obese and non-obese patients. The incidence of cesarean section in obese patients was 23.4% (p <  0.001). Thus, an early performance of epidural analgesia turns out to be essential to control labor pain and to avoid a general anesthesia in such high-risk patients.


Obesity, Neuraxial anesthesia, Labor analgesia, Cesarean section


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