A review of physician anaesthesia prescribing practices in an abortion clinic in British Columbia

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010 Jan;32(1):41-44. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)34402-4.


Objective: The primary purpose of this study was to review the standard prescribing practices of physicians providing local anaesthesia in a major abortion clinic in British Columbia.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients who underwent a first trimester surgical abortion at the Comprehensive Abortion and Reproductive Education (CARE) Program at BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre during 2004 (n = 1546). Patients' demographics and reproductive history including age, weight, gestational age, and gravidity were recorded. Main outcomes recorded were dosage of lidocaine administered and amount of conscious sedation (midazolam and fentanyl) administered for pain management. Incidence of toxicity was also recorded.

Results: Almost one half (49.9%) of the patients received 20 mL of 0.5% lidocaine, and the remainder received 20 mL of 1.0% lidocaine. The volume of conscious sedation did not differ between groups. There was a positive correlation computed between midazolam and fentanyl dosages (r = 0.583, P < 0.01). Neither was significantly associated with gravidity. Gestational age was associated with both midazolam and fentanyl dose (r = 0.05, P = 0.047; r = 0.06, P = 0.024). There was no reported incidence of toxicity.

Conclusion: Similar doses of midazolam and fentanyl were administered to patients regardless of the amount of lidocaine given (20 mL of either 0.5% or 1.0%). Further investigation is required to assess whether fentanyl and midazolam doses used during procedures can be used as surrogate measurements of pain. Our findings suggest it would be reasonable to consider using a lower dose of local anaesthetic for first trimester abortions to further reduce the risk of toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / methods*
  • British Columbia
  • Conscious Sedation
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / administration & dosage
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy


  • Lidocaine
  • Midazolam
  • Fentanyl