Ephedrine remains the vasopressor of choice for treatment of hypotension during ritodrine infusion and epidural anesthesia

  • McGrath J
  • Chestnut D
  • Vincent R
 et al. 
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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Historically, ephedrine has been the vasopressor of choice for treatment of most cases of hypotension in obstetric patients. However, the choice of vasopressor in the parturient receiving a beta- adrenergic agent for tocolysis has not been evaluated extensively. The current study evaluated whether ephedrine or phenylephrine better restores uterine blood flow and fetal oxygenation during ritodrine infusion and epidural anesthesia-induced hypotension in gravid ewes. METHODS: Fourteen chronically instrumented gravid ewes between 0.8 and 0.9 timed gestational age were used. On separate days, each animal underwent the experimental protocol with one of three agents: ephedrine, phenylephrine, and normal saline-control. The experimental protocol was as follows: (1) at time zero, intravenous infusion of ritodrine was begun; (2) at 120 min, 2% lidocaine was given epidurally to achieve a sensory level of at least T6; and (3) at 135 min, an intravenous bolus of either ephedrine, phenylephrine, or normal saline- control was given, followed by a continuous intravenous infusion of the same agent for 30 min. In the ephedrine and phenylephrine experiments, the rate of infusion was adjusted to maintain maternal mean arterial pressure close to baseline. RESULTS: Ritodrine infusion alone significantly increased maternal heart rate and cardiac output in all three groups. Epidural anesthesia during ritodrine infusion significantly decreased maternal mean arterial pressure, heart rate, cardiac output, uterine blood flow, and fetal arterial oxygen tension for each of the three groups. Both ephedrine and phenylephrine restored maternal mean arterial pressure to baseline, as designed. Ephedrine significantly increased uterine blood flow and fetal arterial oxygen tension when compared with normal saline--control, but phenylephrine did not. Phenylephrine significantly increased uterine vascular resistance when compared with normal saline--control, but ephedrine did not. CONCLUSIONS: Although ephedrine and phenylephrine provided similar restoration of maternal mean arterial pressure, ephedrine was superior to phenylephrine in restoring uterine blood flow during ritodrine infusion and epidural anesthesia-induced hypotension in gravid ewes. Also, ephedrine, but not phenylephrine, significantly improved fetal oxygenation, when compared to normal saline--control

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anesthesia: obstetric
  • Anesthetic techniques: epidural
  • Anesthetics, local: lidocaine
  • Pregnancy: preterm labor
  • Sympathetic nervous system, α- adrenergic agonists: phenylephrine
  • Sympathomimetic agents: ephedrine
  • Tocolytic agents: ritodrine

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Authors

  • J. M. McGrath

  • D. H. Chestnut

  • R. D. Vincent

  • C. S. DeBruyn

  • B. L. Atkins

  • D. J. Poduska

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