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Dept. of Anesthesiology

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1 Dept. of Anesthesiology
Obstetric Anesthesia Trey Bates M.D. Tulane University Dept. of Anesthesiology November 15, 2012

2 Key Concepts The most common morbidities encountered in obstetrics are severe hemorrhage and severe preeclampsia. All obstetric patients are considered to have a full stomach and to be at risk for pulmonary aspiration. Regional anesthetic techniques are preferred for management of labor pain. Analgesia for labor requires neural blockade at T10–L1 in the first stage of labor and T10–S4 in the second stage. When dilute mixtures of a local anesthetic and an opioid are used epidural analgesia has little if any effect on the progress of labor.

3 Key Concepts Hypotension is the most common side effect of regional anesthetic techniques and must be treated aggressively with ephedrine and intravenous fluid boluses to prevent fetal compromise. Local anesthetic toxicity during epidural anesthesia may be best avoided by slowly administering dilute solutions for labor pain and fractionating the total dose for cesarean section into 5-mL increments. Maternal hemorrhage is one of the most common severe morbidities complicating obstetric anesthesia. Causes include placenta previa, abruptio placentae, and uterine rupture. Common causes of postpartum hemorrhage include uterine atony, a retained placenta, obstetric lacerations, uterine inversion, and use of tocolytic agents prior to delivery. Pregnancy-induced hypertension describes one of three syndromes: preeclampsia, eclampsia, and the HELLP syndrome.

4 Introduction The guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Society of Anesthesiologists require that anesthesia service be readily available continuously and that cesarean section be started within 30 min of the recognition for its need. Moreover, high-risk patients, such as those undergoing a trial of vaginal birth after a previous cesarean delivery (VBAC), may require the immediate availability of anesthesia services. Although most parturients are young and healthy, they nonetheless represent a high-risk group of patients.

5 Pregnancy Related Mortality
Although this number has decreased nearly 100-fold since 1900, it has not changed appreciably since 1982. Perhaps due to better reporting, it has risen slightly in the United States to 11.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in the period 1991–1999. Overall mortality was higher for women > 35 years old, black patients, and patients without prenatal care. The leading causes of death associated with a live birth were pulmonary embolism (21%), pregnancy-induced hypertension (19%), and other medical conditions (17%). Major causes of death associated with a stillbirth were hemorrhage (21%), pregnancy-induced hypertension (20%), and sepsis (19%). Only 34% of patients died within 24 h of delivery, whereas 55% died between 1 and 42 days, and another 11% died between 43 days and 1 year.

6 Pregnancy Related Mortality

7 Pregnancy Related Mortality

8 Anesthetic Mortality Anesthesia accounts for approximately 2–3% of maternal deaths. Data collected between 1985 and 1990 suggest a maternal mortality of 32 deaths per 1,000,000 live births due to general anesthesia and 1.9 deaths per 1,000,000 live births due to regional anesthesia. More recent data between 1991 and 1999 suggest a lower overall maternal mortality from anesthesia (about 1.6 deaths per 1,000,000 live births), possibly due to greater use of regional anesthesia for labor and cesarean section.

9 Obstetric Anesthesia Closed Claims
Obstetric anesthesia care accounts for approximately 12% of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Closed Claims database. Claims involving general anesthesia have dropped in proportion to its decreasing use in obstetrics; previously, maternal death was the most frequent claim (30%). The proportion of claims associated with regional anesthesia has risen steadily, with the majority of claims in the 1990s associated with less severe injury (Figure 43–2). Maternal nerve injury was the most common claim in the 1990s, followed by newborn brain damage and headache.

10 Obstetric Anesthesia Closed Claims

11 General Approach to the Obstetric Patient
Pertinent historic items include age, parity, duration of the pregnancy, and any complicating factors. Patients definitely requiring anesthetic care (for labor or cesarean section) should undergo a focused pre-anesthetic evaluation as early as possible. This should consist of: maternal health history anesthesia-related obstetric history blood pressure measurement airway assessment back examination for regional anesthesia

12 General Approach to the Obstetric Patient
All women in true labor should be managed with intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. An 18-gauge or larger intravenous catheter is employed in case rapid transfusion should become necessary. Blood should be sent for typing and screening in patients at high risk for hemorrhage. Regardless of the time of last oral intake, all patients are considered to have a full stomach and to be at risk for pulmonary aspiration.

13 General Approach to the Obstetric Patient
The minimum fasting period for elective cesarean section should be 6 h. Prophylactic administration of a clear antacid (15–30 mL of 0.3 M sodium citrate orally) every 3 h can help maintain gastric pH greater than 2.5 and may decrease the likelihood of severe aspiration pneumonitis. H2-blocking drug (ranitidine, 100–150 mg orally or 50 mg intravenously) Reduce both gastric volume and pH but have no effect on the gastric contents already present. Metoclopramide, 10 mg orally or intravenously Accelerates gastric emptying, decreases gastric volume, and increases lower esophageal sphincter tone. All patients should ideally have a tocodynamometer and fetal heart rate monitor. The supine position should be avoided unless a left uterine displacement device (> 15° wedge) is placed under the right hip.

14 Pain Pathways During Labor
The pain of labor arises from: Contraction of the myometrium against the resistance of the cervix and perineum Progressive dilatation of the cervix and lower uterine segment Stretching and compression of pelvic and perineal structures.

15 Pain Pathways During Labor
Pain during the first stage of labor is mostly visceral pain resulting from uterine contractions and cervical dilatation. Initially confined to the T11–T12 dermatomes during the latent phase but eventually involves the T10–L1 dermatomes as the labor enters the active phase. The visceral afferent fibers responsible for labor pain travel with sympathetic nerve fibers first to the uterine and cervical plexuses, then through the hypogastric and aortic plexuses before entering the spinal cord with the T10–L1 nerve roots. The pain is primarily in the lower abdomen but may increasingly be referred to the lumbosacral area, gluteal region, and thighs as labor progresses. Pain intensity also increases with progressive cervical dilatation and the increasing intensity and frequency of uterine contractions. Nulliparous women and those with a history of dysmenorrhea appear to experience greater pain during the first stage of labor. Studies also suggest that women who experience more intense pain during the latent phase of labor have longer labors and are more likely to require cesarean section.

16 Pain Pathways During Labor
The onset of perineal pain at the end of the first stage signals the beginning of fetal descent and the second stage of labor. Sensory innervation of the perineum is provided by the pudendal nerve (S2–4) so pain during the second stage of labor involves the T10–S4 dermatomes. Studies suggest that the more rapid fetal descent in multiparous women is associated with more intense pain than the more gradual fetal descent in nulliparous patients.

17 Introduction to Parenteral Agents
Nearly all parenteral opioid analgesics and sedatives readily cross the placenta and can affect the fetus. Concern over fetal depression limits the use of these agents to the early stages of labor. Central nervous system depression in the neonate may be manifested by a prolonged time to sustain respirations, respiratory acidosis, or an abnormal neurobehavioral examination. Moreover, loss of beat-to-beat variability in the fetal heart rate and decreased fetal movements complicate the evaluation of fetal well-being during labor. Long-term fetal heart variability is affected more than short-term variability. The degree and significance of these effects depend on the specific agent, the dose, the time elapsed between its administration and delivery, and fetal maturity. In addition to maternal respiratory depression, opioids can also induce maternal nausea and vomiting and delay gastric emptying.

18 Parenteral Agents Meperidine Fentanyl
Meperidine is given in doses of 10–25 mg intravenously or 25–50 mg intramuscularly, usually up to a total of 100 mg. Maximal maternal and fetal respiratory depression is seen in 10–20 min following intravenous administration and in 1–3 h following intramuscular administration. Usually administered early in labor when delivery is not expected for at least 4 h. Intravenous fentanyl, 25–100 μg/h, has also been used for labor. Fentanyl in 25–100 μg doses has a 3- to 10-min analgesic onset that initially lasts about 60 min, and lasts longer following multiple doses. Maternal respiratory depression outlasts the analgesia. Lower doses of fentanyl may be associated with little or no neonatal respiratory depression and are reported to have no effect on Apgar scores. Morphine is not used because in equianalgesic doses it appears to cause greater respiratory depression in the fetus than meperidine and fentanyl. Agents with mixed agonist–antagonist activity (butorphanol 1–2 mg and nalbuphine 10–20 mg intravenously or intramuscularly) are effective and are associated with little or no cumulative respiratory depression (ceiling effect), but excessive sedation with repeat doses can be problematic.

19 Parenteral Agents Promethazine (25–50 mg IM) and hydroxyzine (50–100 mg IM) can be useful alone or in combination with meperidine. Both drugs reduce anxiety, opioid requirements, and the incidence of nausea but do not add appreciably to neonatal depression. A significant disadvantage of hydroxyzine is pain at the injection site following intramuscular administration. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents, such as ketorolac, are not recommended because they suppress uterine contractions and promote closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus.

20 Parenteral Agents Benzodiazepines, particularly longer acting agents such as diazepam, are not used during labor because of their potential to cause prolonged neonatal depression. The amnestic properties of benzodiazepines make them undesirable agents for parturients because they usually want to remember the experience of delivery. McConville Article

21 Parenteral Agents Low-dose intravenous ketamine is a powerful analgesic. In doses of 10–15 mg intravenously, good analgesia can be obtained in 2–5 min without loss of consciousness. Unfortunately, fetal depression with low Apgar scores is associated with doses greater than 1 mg/kg. Large boluses of ketamine (> 1 mg/kg) can be associated with hypertonic uterine contractions. Low-dose ketamine is most useful just prior to delivery or as an adjuvant to regional anesthesia.

22 Regional Anesthesia

23 Regional Anesthesia Absolute contraindications to regional anesthesia include: Infection over the injection site Coagulopathy Thrombocytopenia Marked hypovolemia True allergies to local anesthetics Patient's refusal or inability to cooperate for regional anesthesia. Relative contraindications include: Preexisting neurological disease, Back disorders The use of regional anesthesia in patients on "minidose" heparin is controversial, but an epidural should generally not be performed within 6–8 h of a subcutaneous minidose of unfractionated heparin or 12–24 h of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH). Concomitant administration of an antiplatelet agent increases the risk of spinal hematoma. A previous VBAC is not considered a contraindication to regional anesthesia during labor. Concern that the anesthesia masks the pain associated with uterine rupture may not be justified, because dehiscence of a lower segment scar frequently does not cause pain even without epidural anesthesia; moreover, changes in uterine tone and contraction pattern may be more reliable signs.

24 Regional Anesthesia Traditionally epidural analgesia for labor was administered only when labor was well established. Recent studies suggest that when dilute mixtures of a local anesthetic and an opioid are used epidural analgesia has little if any effect on the progress of labor. Concerns about increasing the likelihood of an oxytocin augmentation, operative (eg, forceps) delivery, or cesarean sections appear to be unjustified. It is often advantageous to place an epidural catheter early, when the patient is comfortable and can be positioned easily. Moreover, should emergent cesarean section become necessary the presence of a well-functioning epidural catheter makes it possible to avoid general anesthesia.

25 Regional Anesthesia: Local with Opioid
When the two are combined, very low concentrations of both local anesthetic and opioid can be used. More importantly, the incidence of adverse side effects, such as hypotension and drug toxicity, is likely reduced. Moreover, when an opioid is omitted, the higher concentration of local anesthetic required (eg, bupivacaine 0.25% and ropivacaine 0.2%) can impair the parturient's ability to push effectively as the labor progresses. Bupivacaine or ropivacaine in concentrations of –0.125% with either fentanyl 2–3 g/mL or sufentanil 0.3–0.5 g/mL is most often used. Very dilute local anesthetic mixtures (0.0625%) generally do not produce motor blockade and may allow some patients to ambulate ("walking" or "mobile" epidural). The long duration of action of bupivacaine makes it a popular agent for labor. Ropivacaine may be preferable because of possibly less motor blockade and its reduced potential for cardiotoxicity.

26 Prevention of Unintentional Intravascular and Intrathecal Injections
The incidence of unintentional intravascular or intrathecal placement of an epidural catheter is 5–15% and 0.5–2.5%, respectively. Even a properly placed catheter can subsequently erode into an epidural vein or an intrathecal position. This possibility should be excluded each time local anesthetic is injected through an epidural catheter.

27 Prevention of Unintentional Intravascular and Intrathecal Injections
Test doses of lidocaine, 45–60 mg, bupivacaine, 7.5–10 mg, ropivacaine, 6–8 mg, or chloroprocaine, 100 mg, can be given to exclude unintentional intrathecal placement. Signs of sensory and motor blockade usually become apparent within 2–3 min and 3–5 min, respectively, if the injection is intrathecal.

28 Prevention of Unintentional Intravascular and Intrathecal Injections
In patients not receiving β-adrenergic antagonists, the intravascular injection of a local anesthetic solution with 15–20 μg of epinephrine consistently increases the heart rate by 20–30 beats/min within 30–60s. This technique is not always reliable in parturients because they often have marked spontaneous baseline variations in heart rate with contractions. In fact, bradycardia has been reported in a parturient following intravenous injection of 15 μg of epinephrine. Alternative methods of detecting unintentional intravascular catheter placement include eliciting tinnitus or perioral numbness following a 100-mg test dose of lidocaine, eliciting a chronotropic effect following injection of 5 μg of isoproterenol, or injecting 1 mL of air while monitoring the patient with a precordial Doppler.

29 Management of Complications: Hypotension
Generally defined as a 20–30% decrease in blood pressure or a systolic pressure less than 100 mm Hg The most common side effect of regional anesthesia Primarily due to decreased sympathetic tone and is greatly accentuated by aortocaval compression and an upright or semiupright position. Treatment should be aggressive in obstetric patients and consists of intravenous boluses of ephedrine (5–15 mg) or phenylephrine (25–50 μg), supplemental oxygen, left uterine displacement, and an intravenous fluid bolus.

30 Management of Complications: Unintentional Intravascular Injections
Early recognition may prevent more serious local anesthetic toxicity, such as seizures or cardiovascular collapse. Intravascular injections of toxic doses of lidocaine or chloroprocaine usually present as seizures. Thiopental, 50–100 mg, will cease frank seizure activity. Small doses of propofol may also terminate seizures. Maintenance of a patent airway and adequate oxygenation are of paramount importance. Immediate endotracheal intubation with succinylcholine and cricoid pressure should be considered. Intravascular injections of bupivacaine can cause rapid and profound cardiovascular collapse as well as seizure activity. Cardiac resuscitation may be exceedingly difficult and is particularly aggravated by acidosis and hypoxia. Amiodarone appears to be particularly useful in reversing bupivacaine-induced decreases in the threshold for ventricular tachycardia.

31 Management of Complications: Unintentional Intrathecal Injection
If dural puncture is recognized immediately after injection of local anesthetic, an attempt to aspirate the local anesthetic may be tried but is usually unsuccessful. The patient should be gently placed supine with left uterine displacement. Head elevation accentuates hypotension and should be avoided. The hypotension should be treated aggressively with ephedrine and intravenous fluids. A high spinal level can also result in diaphragmatic paralysis, which necessitates intubation and ventilation with 100% oxygen. Delayed onset of a very high and often patchy or unilateral block may be due to unrecognized subdural injection, which is managed similarly.

32 Management of Complications: Postdural Puncture Headache
Headache frequently follows unintentional dural puncture in parturients. A self-limited headache may occur without dural puncture; in such instances injection of significant amounts of air into the epidural space during a loss of resistance technique may be responsible. PDPH is due to decreased intracranial pressure with compensatory cerebral vasodilatation. Bed rest, hydration, oral analgesics, epidural saline injection (50 mL), and caffeine sodium benzoate (500 mg intravenously) may be effective in patients with mild headaches. Patients with moderate to severe headaches usually require an epidural blood patch (15–20 mL). Prophylactic epidural blood patches are generally not recommended; 25–50% of patients may not require a blood patch following dural puncture. Some clinicians believe that delaying a blood patch for 24 h increases its efficacy, but this practice is controversial. Subdural hematoma has been reported as a rare complication 1–6 weeks following unintentional dural puncture in obstetric patients.

33 Management of Complications: Maternal Fever
Epidural analgesia for labor is associated with a higher incidence of temperature elevation in parturients compared with those delivering without the benefit of epidural analgesia. Maternal fever is often interpreted as chorioamnionitis and may trigger an invasive neonatal sepsis evaluation. There is no evidence, however, that neonatal sepsis is actually increased with epidural analgesia. This elevation in temperature may result from epidural-induced shivering or inhibition of sweating and hyperventilation; it is most commonly encountered in nulliparous women, who often have prolonged labor and are more likely to receive epidural analgesia.

34 General Anesthesia: Vaginal Delivery
Possible Indications for General Anesthesia during Vaginal Delivery. Fetal distress during the second stage Tetanic uterine contractions Breech extraction Version and extraction Manual removal of a retained placenta Replacement of an inverted uterus Psychiatric patients who become uncontrollable Because of the increased risk of aspiration, general anesthesia for vaginal delivery is avoided except for a true emergency. If an epidural catheter is already in place and time permits, rapid-onset regional anesthesia can often be obtained with alkalinized lidocaine 2% or chloroprocaine 3%. Table 43–3 lists indications for general anesthesia during vaginal delivery. Many of these indications share the need for uterine relaxation. Intravenous nitroglycerin, 50–100 g, has been shown to be effective in inducing uterine relaxation and may obviate the need for general anesthesia in these cases.

35 Major Indications for Cesarean Section
Labor unsafe for mother and fetus  Dystocia  Immediate or emergent delivery necessary  Increased risk of uterine rupture Abnormal fetopelvic relations Fetal distress Previous classic cesarean section Fetopelvic disproportion Umbilical cord prolapse Previous extensive myomectomy or uterine reconstruction Abnormal fetal presentation Maternal hemorrhage Increased risk of maternal hemorrhage Transverse or oblique lie Amnionitis Central or partial placenta previa Breech presentation Genital herpes with ruptured membranes Abruptio placentae Dysfunctional uterine activity Impending maternal death Previous vaginal reconstruction

36 Regional Anesthesia for Cesarean Section
Cesarean section requires a T4 sensory level. Because of the associated high sympathetic blockade, all patients should receive a to 1500-mL bolus of lactated Ringer's injection prior to neural blockade. Crystalloid boluses do not consistently prevent hypotension but can be helpful in some patients. Smaller volumes (250–500 mL) of colloid solutions, such as albumin or hetastarch, are more effective. After injection of the anesthetic, the patient is placed supine with left uterine displacement; supplemental oxygen (40–50%) is given; blood pressure is measured every 1–2 min until it stabilizes. Intravenous ephedrine, 10 mg, should be used to maintain systolic blood pressure > 100 mm Hg. Small intravenous doses of phenylephrine, 25–100 μg, or an infusion up to 100 μg/min may also be used safely. Some studies suggest less neonatal acidosis with phenylephrine compared to ephedrine. Prophylactic administration of ephedrine (5 mg intravenous or 25 mg intramuscular) has been advocated by some clinicians for spinal anesthesia, as precipitous hypotension may be seen but is not recommended for most patients because of a risk of inducing excessive hypertension. Slight Trendelenburg positioning facilitates achieving a T4 sensory level and may also help prevent severe hypotension.

37 Algorithm for a Difficult Intubation in Obstetric Patients

38 Anesthesia for Emergency Cesarean Section
Indications for emergency cesarean section include massive bleeding (placenta previa or accreta, abruptio placentae, or uterine rupture), umbilical cord prolapse, and severe fetal distress. Close communication with the obstetrician is necessary to determine whether fetus, mother, or both are in immediate jeopardy requiring general anesthesia or there is time to safely administer regional anesthesia. In the first instance, even if the patient has an epidural catheter in place, the delay in establishing adequate epidural anesthesia may prohibit its use. Moreover, regional anesthesia is contraindicated in severely hypovolemic or hypotensive patients. Adequate preoxygenation may be achieved rapidly with four maximal breaths of 100% oxygen while monitors are being applied. Ketamine, 1 mg/kg, should be substituted for thiopental in hypotensive or hypovolemic patients.

39 Partum Hemorrhage: Placenta Previa
The incidence of placenta previa is 0.5% of pregnancies. Often occurs in patients who have had a previous cesarean section or uterine myomectomy; other risk factors include multiparity, advanced maternal age, and a large placenta. The placenta may completely cover the internal cervical os (central or complete placenta previa), may partially cover the os (partial placenta previa), or may be close to the internal cervical os without extending beyond its edge (low-lying or marginal placenta). An anterior lying placenta previa increases the risk of excessive bleeding for cesarean section. Usually presents as PAINLESS vaginal bleeding. Although the bleeding often stops spontaneously, severe hemorrhage can occur at any time. When the gestation is less than 37 weeks in duration and the bleeding is mild to moderate, the patient is usually treated with bed rest and observation. After 37 weeks of gestation, delivery is usually accomplished via cesarean section. Patients with low-lying placenta may be allowed—although rarely—to deliver vaginally if the bleeding is mild.

40 Partum Hemorrhage: Placenta Previa
All parturients with vaginal bleeding are assumed to have placenta previa until proved otherwise. An abdominal ultrasound examination can localize the placenta and establishes the diagnosis. Active bleeding or an unstable patient requires immediate cesarean section under general anesthesia. The patient should have two large-bore intravenous catheters in place, intravascular volume deficits must be vigorously replaced, and blood must be available for transfusion. A history of a previous placenta previa or cesarean section increases the risk of placenta accreta, placenta increta, and placenta percreta in subsequent pregnancies. In these conditions, the placenta becomes adherent to the surface, invades the muscle, or completely penetrates the myometrium and surrounding tissues, respectively. Coagulopathy is common and requires correction with blood components.

41 Partum Hemorrhage: Abruptio Placentae
Premature separation of a normal placenta complicates approximately 1–2% of pregnancies; it is said to be the most common cause of intrapartum fetal death. Bleeding into the basal layers of the decidua causes placental separation. Expansion of the hematoma can progressively extend the separation. Risk factors include hypertension, trauma, a short umbilical cord, multiparity, a prolonged premature rupture of membranes, alcohol abuse, cocaine use, and an abnormal uterus. Patients usually experience PAINFUL vaginal bleeding with uterine contraction and tenderness. The diagnosis is made by excluding placenta previa on abdominal ultrasound. Amniotic fluid is port wine colored. Severe abruptio placentae can cause coagulopathy, particularly following fetal demise. Fibrinogen levels are mildly reduced (150–250 mg/dL) with moderate abruptions but are typically less than 150 mg/dL with fetal demise. The coagulopathy is thought to be due to activation of circulating plasminogen (fibrinolysis) and the release of tissue thromboplastins that precipitate disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Consider replacement of coagulation factors and platelets, is necessary.

42 Partum Hemorrhage: Uterine Rupture
Uterine rupture is relatively uncommon (1:1000–3000 deliveries) but can occur during labor as a result of: Dehiscence of a scar from a previous (usually classic) cesarean section (VBAC), extensive myomectomy, or uterine reconstruction Intrauterine manipulations or use of forceps (iatrogenic) Spontaneous rupture following prolonged labor in patients with hypertonic contractions (particularly with oxytocin infusions), fetopelvic disproportion, or a very large, thin, and weakened uterus. Uterine rupture can present as frank hemorrhage, fetal distress, loss of uterine tone, and/or hypotension with occult bleeding into the abdomen. Even when epidural anesthesia is employed for labor, uterine rupture is often heralded by the abrupt onset of continuous abdominal pain and hypotension. Treatment requires volume resuscitation and immediate laparotomy under general anesthesia.

43 Pregnancy Induced Hypertension: Anesthetic Management
Spinal and epidural anesthesia are associated with similar decreases in arterial blood pressure in these patients. Patients with severe disease, however, are critically ill and require stabilization prior to administration of any anesthetic. Continuous epidural anesthesia is the first choice for most patients with PIH during labor, vaginal delivery, and cesarean section. Moreover, continuous epidural anesthesia avoids the increased risk of a failed intubation due to severe edema of the upper airway. A platelet count and coagulation profile should be checked prior to the institution of regional anesthesia in patients with severe PIH. It has been recommended that regional anesthesia be avoided if the platelet count is less than 100,000/L, but a platelet count as low as 70,000/L may be acceptable.

44 Pregnancy Induced Hypertension: Anesthetic Management
Continuous epidural anesthesia has been shown to decrease catecholamine secretion and improve uteroplacental perfusion up to 75% in these patients, provided hypotension is avoided. Judicious colloid fluid boluses (250–500 mL) before epidural activation may be more effective than crystalloids in correcting the hypovolemia and preventing profound hypotension. Hypotension should be treated with small doses of vasopressors (ephedrine, 5 mg) because patients tend to be very sensitive to these agents. Nitroprusside, trimethaphan, or nitroglycerin is usually necessary to control blood pressure during general anesthesia. Intravenous labetalol (5–10 mg increments) can also be effective in controlling the hypertensive response to intubation and does not appear to alter placental blood flow. Because magnesium potentiates muscle relaxants, doses of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants should be reduced in patients receiving magnesium therapy and guided by a peripheral nerve stimulator.


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