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Managing anesthesia  for cesarean section in obese patients: current perspectives

Authors Lamon A, Habib A

Received 6 March 2016

Accepted for publication 6 May 2016

Published 16 August 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 45—57


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Stefan Wirz

Agnes M Lamon, Ashraf S Habib

Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA

Abstract: Obesity is a worldwide epidemic. It is associated with increased comorbidities and increased maternal, fetal, and neonatal complications. The risk of cesarean delivery is also increased in obese parturients. Anesthetic management of the obese parturient is challenging and requires adequate planning. Therefore, those patients should be referred to antenatal anesthetic consultation. Anesthesia-related complications and maternal mortality are increased in this patient population. The risk of difficult intubation is increased in obese patients. Neuraxial techniques are the preferred anesthetic techniques for cesarean delivery in obese parturients but can be technically challenging. An existing labor epidural catheter can be topped up for cesarean delivery. In patients who do not have a well-functioning labor epidural, a combined spinal epidural technique might be preferred over a single-shot spinal technique since it is technically easier in obese parturients and allows for extending the duration of the block as required. A continuous spinal technique can also be considered. Studies suggest that there is no need to reduce the dose of spinal bupivacaine in the obese parturient, but there is little data about spinal dosing in super obese parturients. Intraoperatively, patients should be placed in a ramped position, with close monitoring of ventilation and hemodynamic status. Adequate postoperative analgesia is crucial to allow for early mobilization. This can be achieved using a multimodal regimen incorporating neuraxial morphine (with appropriate observations) with scheduled nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. Thromboprophylaxis is also important in this patient population due to the increased risk of thromboembolic complications. These patients should be monitored carefully in the postoperative period, since there is increased risk of postoperative complications in the morbidly obese parturients.

Keywords: obesity, neuraxial techniques, cesarean delivery

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