[Patient-controlled epidural analgesia for labour: in practice]

Ann Fr Anesth Reanim. 2006 Jun;25(6):593-8. doi: 10.1016/j.annfar.2006.02.012. Epub 2006 Apr 19.
[Article in French]


Objectives: Update on patient controlled epidural analgesia for labour.

Study design: Literature review of the recent data on local anaesthetics, additional analgesics and of publications on the various protocols used.

Data collection: Pubmed database was checked with the following key words: PCEA, labour, opioids, clonidine. The abstracts of the ASA meetings from 2000 to 2005 were also examined.

Results: Patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) is the method of choice for optimal labour pain management. The advantages of this technique are numerous. Some of them are established: consistent reduction in overall local anathetic requirement, less motor blockade, safety of the technique and team workload reduction. A better adequacy with the analgesic requirements and an increase in overall patient satisfaction are frequently retrieved, provided that the choice of the analgesics and the PCEA parameters are adequately chosen.

Conclusion: The use of PCEA improves the quality of analgesic management offered to the parturients who are more and more willing to have a "more natural" childbirth. The PCEA gives them more autonomy and, in fine, enables them to better enjoy this unique event. The main barrier to a more widespread diffusion of PCEA in many institutions remains the financial issue, although a well-selected device and low cost disposables allow a reduction of indirect costs by decreasing care giver workload.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Epidural*
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical*
  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor Pain / drug therapy*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pregnancy


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Local