Rethinking general anesthesia for cesarean section

J Anesth. 2016 Apr;30(2):268-73. doi: 10.1007/s00540-015-2099-4. Epub 2015 Nov 19.


In this review, we describe the current consensus surrounding general anesthetic management for cesarean section. For induction of anesthesia, rapid-sequence induction using thiopental and suxamethonium has been the recommended standard for a long time. In recent years, induction of anesthesia using propofol, rocuronium, and remifentanil have been gaining popularity. To prevent aspiration pneumonia, a prolonged preoperative fasting and an application of cricoid pressure during induction of anesthesia have been recommended, but these practices may require revision. Guidelines for difficult airway management were developed first in obstetric anesthesia, and the use of a supraglottic airway is now recognized as an effective rescue device. After the delivery of a fetus, switching from volatile anesthetics to intravenous anesthetics has been recommended to avoid uterine atony. At the same time, intraoperative awareness should be avoided. The rate of persistent wound pain is higher when only general anesthesia was used during cesarean section than with regional anesthesia, and thus it is necessary to provide a sufficient postoperative analgesia using multimodal analgesia, including intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (IV-PCA), transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block, non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, and acetaminophen.

Keywords: Airway management; Cesarean section; Intraoperative awareness; Rapid-sequence induction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled / methods
  • Anesthesia, General / methods*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / methods*
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Cesarean Section / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Awareness
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous