Anaphylaxis in the clinical setting of obstetric anesthesia: a literature review

Anesth Analg. 2013 Dec;117(6):1357-67. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3182a706c7.


The prevalence of anaphylaxis occurring during pregnancy is approximately 3 cases per 100,000 deliveries. The management of anaphylaxis occurring during the third trimester of pregnancy may be challenging because of the additive effects of aortocaval compression and cardiovascular disturbances of anaphylaxis. In this review, we identify the clinical signs of anaphylaxis occurring during labor and cesarean delivery, discuss the more common allergens that cause anaphylaxis during this clinical setting, and develop a rational approach to the identification of the offending allergen. We also suggest strategies for the management of anaphylaxis occurring during the third trimester of pregnancy, including the prompt administration of epinephrine and emergency cesarean delivery in cases of severe reactions. Evidence is limited to case reports and extrapolation from nonfatal and fatal cases, interpretation of pathophysiology, and consensus opinion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / diagnosis
  • Anaphylaxis / epidemiology*
  • Anaphylaxis / mortality
  • Anaphylaxis / physiopathology
  • Anaphylaxis / therapy
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / mortality
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Epinephrine