Background: Superficial bleeding after labor epidural catheter placement is a common phenomenon. In addition to delaying securing the epidural catheter, it may loosen the adhesive catheter dressing. The primary aim of this study was to determine whether skin infiltration with epinephrine-containing rather than plain lidocaine reduces superficial bleeding after catheter placement. Secondary objectives were to determine whether adding epinephrine and/or sodium bicarbonate affected infiltration pain.
Methods: After institutional review board approval and informed consent, 80 healthy women receiving epidural analgesia during labor were randomly assigned in a double-blind manner to four local anesthetic mixtures (n=20 in each group): group L: lidocaine 1.5%, group LB: lidocaine 1.5% with 8.4% sodium bicarbonate, group LE: lidocaine 1.5% with epinephrine 1:200000, and group LEB: lidocaine 1.5% with epinephrine 1:200000 and 8.4% sodium bicarbonate. Clinical endpoints included the amount of superficial bleeding at the catheter site, pain during local anesthetic infiltration and epidural catheter movement during labor.
Results: Demographic data were similar among the groups. The addition of epinephrine to lidocaine significantly reduced superficial bleeding. Solutions containing epinephrine were well tolerated and caused no cardiovascular disturbances. The addition of epinephrine did not increase pain, while bicarbonate reduced it [verbal score (scale 0-10) 3.6+/-2.2 vs. 2.6+/-1.8; P=0.04]. There were no differences in epidural catheter movement among the groups; no catheters became displaced during labor.
Conclusion: Local infiltration of epinephrine-containing lidocaine before epidural catheter insertion reduces superficial bleeding and the addition of bicarbonate decreases pain during skin infiltration.