Original article| Volume 5, ISSUE 1, P8-13, January 1996

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Anaesthetic characteristics and long-term backache after obstetric epidural anaesthesia

  • C MacArthur
    Correspondence to: Christine MacArthur.
    Department of Public Health and Epidemiolgy, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
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  • M Lewis
    Department of Anaesthetics, Birmingham Maternity Hospital, Birmingham, UK
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Christine MacArthur, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT
    2 Margo Lewis, Department of Anaesthetics, Birmingham Maternity Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TG.
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      Anaesthetic casenotes of 4700 women who had epidural anaesthesia for deliveries between 1978–1985 were examined to look for associations between various epidural characteristics and subsequently reported long-term backache. The data on long-term backache came from a postal questionnaire sent to the women.
      The only clear predictor of the occurrence of long-term backache was having experienced backache immediately after the birth whilst still in hospital. There were no relationships between long-term backache and the duration of the epidural or various indicators of the extent of motor or sensory block.
      Within the range of local anaesthetic concentration levels used in this series, the extent of block did not seem to affect backache, but the effect of minimal motor block with corresponding increased mobility, such as is available with low concentration anaesthetics mixed with opiates, merits further study.
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