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Caesarean sections under regional anesthesia: pros and cons of supplementary oxygen

, : Caesarean sections under regional anesthesia: pros and cons of supplementary oxygen. Der Anaesthesist 62(3): 201-212

The routine administration of supplemental oxygen to women undergoing elective caesarean section under regional anesthesia in order to optimize oxygen supply to the fetus is common anesthetic practice in many German hospitals. However, this practice has been controversially discussed in the non-German literature for many years. This review presents and discusses the pros and cons of routinely providing supplemental oxygen to a parturient during caesarean section on the basis of the literature published over the last 30 years. Proponents of routine oxygen administration point to potential and unforeseeable risks of caesarean sections and consider the prophylactic administration of oxygen based on physiological considerations to be advantageous in terms of patient safety. Interestingly, data regarding the effects of an increased maternal FIO2 on improvement of fetal oxygenation are inconsistent, therefore, no unambiguous recommendation concerning which FIO2 to choose can be given. Opponents of routine oxygen supplementation allude above all to an increase in free radical activity in both mother and fetus; however, data in this respect are not consistent either. As supplemental oxygen to patients undergoing elective caesarean section without any risk factors under regional anesthesia is associated with potential risks while no advantage has so far been demonstrated, routine administration of oxygen has to be challenged and is no longer considered to be indicated by many. On the contrary, in cases of emergency with a concomitant risk of hypoxia for mother and fetus, administration of oxygen is indispensable in the light of present data.


PMID: 23392217

DOI: 10.1007/s00101-012-2129-7

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