Effect of the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths on the use of Syntocinon at Caesarean section in the UK

Anaesthesia. 2003 Mar;58(3):277-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2044.2003.30435.x.


The recommended dose of Syntocinon used for uterine contraction at Caesarean section is5 units intravenously, given slowly. We conducted a survey of the use of Syntocinon at Caesarean section among 240 lead obstetric anaesthetists in the UK in 2001 and found that 155 (87%) of the 179 (75%) respondents gave 10 units, 77 of them (50%) by rapid bolus. The risks of Syntocinon, especially given by rapid injection, were highlighted in the report of the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the UK (1997-99), which was published at the end of 2001, and so the survey was repeated in 2002. Of the 256 forms sent, 198 completed replies were returned (77%); these indicated a dramatic change of practice: only 30 (15%) now gave 10 units and only 7 of these (23%) by a rapid injection. One hundred and sixty-seven respondents to the second survey (84%) stated they had changed their practice and 159 of these (95%) gave the Confidential Enquiries report as the main reason for change. These results highlight the importance of the Confidential Enquiries as a means of improving practice.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / methods*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / trends
  • Cesarean Section / methods*
  • Female
  • Government Publications as Topic
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Oxytocin / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • United Kingdom
  • Uterine Contraction / drug effects


  • Oxytocin