New Study Shows Epidurals Lessen Pain Without Increased Risk of C-Section

Feb 16, 2005, 00:00 ET from American Society of Anesthesiologists

    PARK RIDGE, Ill., Feb. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- In the future pain relief may be
 available earlier for women in labor, especially first-time mothers. A new
 study by anesthesiologists shows that spinal-epidural analgesia (pain relief)
 during early labor does not increase the cesarean delivery rate in this group
 of mothers, a subject of recent debate. This new finding may help women obtain
 pain relief sooner in the labor process.
     The study also found that analgesia via the combined spinal-epidural
 technique resulted in better pain relief and a shorter labor when compared to
 pain medications administered by other routes such as intravenous or
 intramuscular injections.
     The lead author of the study is Cynthia A. Wong, M.D., associate professor
 of anesthesiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in
 Chicago. The full results of the study can be found in the February 17 issue
 of the New England Journal of Medicine.
     Epidural or combined spinal-epidural analgesia administered or supervised
 by anesthesiologists provides safe pain relief during childbirth for more than
 1.5 million women each year.  This treatment blocks pain by numbing the nerves
 around the epidural space that encases the spinal cord.
     Information for patients about pain relief during labor and delivery is
 available on the American Society of Anesthesiologists Web site at .
     Because each woman's labor is unique, it is important that a physician be
 consulted about the most appropriate method of pain relief.
     The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is a national, nonprofit
 association of approximately 39,000 physicians and other scientists from
 around the world engaged or especially interested in the medical specialty of
 anesthesiology. More than 90 percent of all practicing anesthesiologists in
 the United States belong to the ASA, making it the preeminent voice of the
 specialty. Since its founding in 1905, ASA has functioned as a research,
 scientific, and educational resource for anesthesiologists, patients, the
 public, and policymakers and has continuously provided highly respected
 guidance and expertise, particularly in patient safety matters.

SOURCE American Society of Anesthesiologists