Efficacy of electrical stimulation on epidural anesthesia for cesarean section: A randomized controlled trial

Young Sung Kim, Hyo Sung Kim, Hyerim Jeong, Chung Hun Lee, Mi Kyoung Lee, Sang Sik Choi

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    Background: Loss of resistance (LOR) technique is a widely used method to identify the epidural space. However, cases of inadequate epidural anesthesia in cesarean section were frequently reported. Also, the success rate of epidural anesthesia with LOR technique varied depending on the proficiency of the practitioner. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of electrical stimulation to identify epidural spaces in cesarean section for novices or clinicians with recent gap in experience. Methods: Pregnant women scheduled for elective cesarean section were randomly allocated to two groups. Groups were classified based on the methods used for identifying the epidural space: the LOR group (group L) and the LOR with epidural electrical stimulation group (group E). Clinicians with less than 10 epidural cesarean section experiences in the recent year performed epidural anesthesia for cesarean section. In the group E, a RegionalStim® conductive catheter was inserted through the Tuohy needle, and the guidewire passing through the catheter was connected to a peripheral nerve stimulator. The intensity of the stimulation was gradually increased from 0.25 mA to 1.5 mA until paresthesia was elicited and radiated. We assessed the success of epidural anesthesia (complete success, partial success or failure). Other clinical parameters including maternal satisfaction, time required for epidural anesthesia, neonatal Apgar scores, pain scores and adverse events were compared between the two groups. Results: Except for 6 patients who withdrew consent, 54 patients were enrolled in this study (28 for the group L and 26 for the group E). The demographic data showed no difference between the two groups. There was no adverse event resulted from electrical stimulation. The group E showed higher rate of complete success, sensitivity in finding epidural space and maternal satisfaction compared to the group L (21/26 vs. 15/28, p = 0.034, 0.96 vs. 0.68, p = 0.012 and 4.04 vs. 3.39, p = 0.02, respectively). The other clinical parameters showed no differences between the two groups. Conclusion: In addition to the conventional LOR technique, identifying epidural spaces using electrical stimulation led to better outcomes without additional risks for novices as well as clinicians with recent gap in experience. Trial registration: This study was retrospectively registered in the ClinicalTrials.gov Registry (NCT03443466) on February 23, 2018.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number146
    JournalBMC Anesthesiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 10


    • Cesarean section
    • Electrical stimulation
    • Epidural anesthesia

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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