Does labour epidural slow the progress of labour and lead to complications? Obstetricians' perception working in private and public sector teaching hospitals in a developing country

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Background and Aims: Obstetricians play a major role in the decision making for provision of analgesia for the woman in labour. As epidural analgesia (EA) is the most preferred technique, it is important to know obstetricians' perception regarding its effect on progress of labour and associated complications.Methods: The 6 months cross-sectional study included 114 obstetricians from teaching hospitals. After informed consent, obstetricians were asked to fill a predesigned questionnaire containing 13 close ended questions regarding their perception on the effect of EA on progress of labour, EA complications and whether they would recommend EA to their patients or not. Other variables included age, gender, training in EA, practice type and hospital settings (private or public sector).Results: Majority of the obstetricians had the perception of EA prolonging the first stage (89.5%) and second stage (98.2%) of labour, increasing the rate of caesarean section (87.7%), instrumental delivery (58.8%) and increasing the incidence of backache (85.5%). None of the obstetricians received any formal training in EA. Majority (84.2%) were not sure if they would recommend EA to their patients. When these responses were compared between public and private sector, a statistically higher percentage (P < 0.001) of public sector obstetricians had negative perception of EA.CONCLUSION: Perception of obstetrician regarding EA is contrary to the current evidence. There is a need to introduce formal curriculum on EA in obstetric training program and conduct regular refresher courses.


Indian Journal of Anaesthesia