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A survey of labour epidural practices at obstetric anesthesia fellowship programs in the United States



Labour epidural analgesia (LEA) is an evolving field. Various neuraxial techniques and dosing regimens are available to the modern obstetric anesthesia provider, allowing for significant practice variability. To begin a search for consensus on optimal care, we sought to query fellowship training practices for LEA.


We conducted an electronic survey of institutions with American Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited obstetric anesthesiology fellowship programs. We studied the frequency of epidural initiation techniques, including combined spinal epidural (CSE), dural puncture epidural, and epidural bolus. For maintenance techniques, we appraised the use of continuous epidural infusion, programmed intermittent bolus (PIEB), and patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA).


Of 40 institutions surveyed, we received 32 responses (80% response rate). Twenty-eight of 40 (70%) were included in the analysis. A plurality of institutions (12/28; 43%) preferred CSE, and among those who used CSE, 23/27 (85%) included intrathecal opioids. A majority of institutions used protocols with PIEB (55%), while almost all (92%) used PCEA. Most participants (88%) reported using dilute concentration maintenance infusions of 0.1% bupivacaine/ropivacaine or less.


Despite significant variability in LEA practice, some clear patterns emerged in our survey, including preference for opioid-containing CSE and maintenance with PIEB, PCEA, and dilute epidural solutions.

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