Pain during cesarean delivery: A patient-related prospective observational study assessing the incidence and risk factors for intraoperative pain and intravenous medication administration

Anaesth Crit Care Pain Med. 2024 Feb;43(1):101310. doi: 10.1016/j.accpm.2023.101310. Epub 2023 Oct 20.


Introduction: The incidence of pain during cesarean delivery (PDCD) remains unclear. Most studies evaluated PDCD using interventions suggesting inadequate analgesia: neuraxial replacement, unplanned intravenous medication (IVM), or conversion to general anesthesia. Few assess self-reported pain. This study evaluates the incidence of and risk factors for self-reported PDCD and IVM administration.

Methods: Between May and September 2022, English-speaking women undergoing cesarean delivery under neuraxial anesthesia were approached within the first 48 h. Participants answered a 16-question survey about intraoperative anesthesia care. Clinical characteristics were extracted from electronic medical records. The primary outcome was PDCD. Secondary outcomes were analgesic IVM (opioids alone or in combination with ketamine, midazolam, or dexmedetomidine) and conversion to general anesthesia. Risk factors for PDCD and analgesic IVM were identified using multivariable logistic regression models.

Results: Pain was reported by 46/399 (11.5%; 95% CI: 8.6, 15.1) participants. Analgesic IVM was administered to 16 (34.8%) women with PDCD and 45 (12.6%) without. Conversion to general anesthesia occurred in 3 (6.5%) women with and 4 (1.1%) without PDCD. Risk factors associated with PDCD were substance use disorder and intrapartum epidural extension. Risk factors associated with analgesic IVM were PDCD, intrapartum epidural extension when ≥2 epidural top-ups were given for labor analgesia, and longer surgical duration.

Discussion: In our cohort of scheduled and unplanned cesarean deliveries, the incidence of PDCD was 11.5%. A significant proportion of women (15.1%) received analgesic IVM, of which some but not all reported pain, which requires further evaluation to identify triggers for IVM administration and strategies optimizing shared decision-making.

Keywords: Failed neuraxial anesthesia; General anesthesia; Intravenous medication; Opioids; Pain during cesarean delivery; Shared decision making.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics* / therapeutic use
  • Cesarean Section* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors


  • Analgesics