Regional anaesthesia for a Caesarean section in women with cardiac disease: a prospective study

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2010 Jan;54(1):46-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2009.02080.x. Epub 2009 Sep 17.


Background: We conducted a prospective observational survey of pregnant women with cardiac disease. The aim was to analyse and present the mode of delivery, outcome, and haemodynamic changes during a caesarean section under regional anaesthesia in women with cardiac disease.

Methods: All pregnant women with a cardiovascular diagnosis, except hypertension, were included in the registry. Based on the cardiac diagnoses, and on the New York Heart Association classification, a multidisciplinary group made recommendations for each patient and decided on the mode of delivery. The data from continuous, invasive haemodynamic monitoring in intermediate- and high-risk patients under regional anaesthesia for a caesarean section were analysed and presented.

Results: The hospital had approximately 9000 deliveries in the period from November 2003 to April 2008. A total of 113 pregnancies in 107 women were included. Thirty-two (28.3%) pregnancies were classified into the high-risk category. Of 103 deliveries, caesarean sections were performed in 59 (52.2%) cases, with regional anaesthesia in 51 patients (18 emergencies), general anaesthesia in eight patients (five emergencies), and a planned vaginal delivery in 44 patients. There was no mortality among the mothers or the babies during the hospital stay or 6 months postpartum. Pre-operative cardiovascular stability during the caesarean section was maintained by volume and phenylephrine infusion guided by invasive monitoring of haemodynamic variables.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that pregnant women with cardiac disease may safely deliver the baby by a caesarean section under regional anaesthesia. According to our findings, haemodynamic stability can be obtained by titrated regional anaesthesia, intravenous (i.v.) volume, phenylephrine infusion, and small repeated doses of i.v. oxytocin guided by invasive monitoring.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / methods*
  • Anesthesia, Spinal / methods*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative / methods
  • Oxytocics / pharmacology
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Oxytocics
  • Oxytocin