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 http://www.asahq.org . 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