Horner's syndrome and trigeminal nerve palsy following epidural anaesthesia for obstetrics

Can J Anaesth. 1991 Sep;38(6):767-71. doi: 10.1007/BF03008457.


While Horner's syndrome is a rare but occasionally reported side-effect of epidural block administered for labour, trigeminal nerve palsy has been described only once. The cases described in this report confirmed the benign nature of these neurological complications of epidurally administered anaesthetics which were not detrimental to fetal viability. The complications may be attributed to extensive cephalad spread of local anaesthetic, sometimes via unexplained routes and with surprisingly selective targeting effect (unilateral trigeminal nerve palsy). The atypical and unusually high cephalad spread of local anaesthetic in pregnant women at term is believed to be due to pregnancy-related altered anatomy and physiology of the epidural space.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Epidural / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / adverse effects*
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Bupivacaine / adverse effects
  • Facial Paralysis / etiology*
  • Female
  • Horner Syndrome / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Procaine / adverse effects
  • Procaine / analogs & derivatives
  • Trigeminal Nerve*


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Procaine
  • chloroprocaine
  • Bupivacaine