Anaesthetic considerations for non-obstetric surgery during pregnancy

Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.
BJA British Journal of Anaesthesia (Impact Factor: 4.85). 12/2011; 107 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):i72-8. DOI: 10.1093/bja/aer343
Source: PubMed


Surgery during pregnancy is complicated by the need to balance the requirements of two patients. Under usual circumstances, surgery is only conducted during pregnancy when it is absolutely necessary for the wellbeing of the mother, fetus, or both. Even so, the outcome is generally favourable for both the mother and the fetus. All general anaesthetic drugs cross the placenta and there is no optimal general anaesthetic technique. Neither is there convincing evidence that any particular anaesthetic drug is toxic in humans. There is weak evidence that nitrous oxide should be avoided in early pregnancy due to a potential association with pregnancy loss with high exposure. There is evidence in animal models that many general anaesthetic techniques cause inappropriate neuronal apoptosis and behavioural deficits in later life. It is not known whether these considerations affect the human fetus but studies are underway. Given the general considerations of avoiding fetal exposure to unnecessary medication and potential protection of the maternal airway, regional anaesthesia is usually preferred in pregnancy when it is practical for the medical and surgical condition. When surgery is indicated during pregnancy maintenance of maternal oxygenation, perfusion and homeostasis with the least extensive anaesthetic that is practical will assure the best outcome for the fetus.

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