Author(s): Loo CC, Dahlgren G, Irestedt L
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Abstract Neurological complications after obstetric central neural blocks are rare events. Although central neural blockade does cause neurological complications, there must be awareness that neurological deficits may either develop spontaneously (e.g. epidural abscess/haematoma) or as a result of the labour and delivery process (maternal obstetric palsies). We have attempted to review as completely as possible the published survey and case reports in the English literature on neurological complications of obstetric regional blockade obtained from Medline spanning the period 1966 to November 1998. We also performed cross-checking of our references to find important missing articles, e.g. papers published in journals not included in Index Medicus at the time of publication, such as the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia. We wish to provide some insight to the incidences, pathophysiology, clinical features, investigations, treatment and prognosis of these complications. Maternal obstetric palsies and case reports of spontaneous epidural abscess/haematoma are also discussed. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to determine the exact aetiology, but unfortunately for the anaesthetists, regional blockade is usually incriminated till proven otherwise. Although we cannot eliminate the occurrence of neurological complications completely, preventive measures can still be taken to decrease their incidence (e.g. aseptic technique). There must also be regular monitoring after neural blockade for the development of neurological complications. Early diagnosis and prompt appropriate treatment will usually lead to complete resolution of the neurological deficit even in cases of epidural haematoma/abscess.
This article was published in Int J Obstet Anesth
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research