Epidural may beat patient-controlled painkiller for childbirth - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Epidural may beat patient-controlled painkiller for childbirth

Updated:
  • What's Going AroundMore>>

  • What's Going Around - April 16th

    What's Going Around - April 16th

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:16 AM EDT2014-04-16 15:16:33 GMT
    Sinus infections are going around this week. Nurse Practitioner Christy Johnson from Bay Medical-Sacred Heart Family Medicine says, "A sinus infection is inflammation or swelling of your sinuses. WhenMore >>
    A sinus infection can make a person feel miserable. More >>
  • What's Going Around - April 2nd

    What's Going Around - April 2nd

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 11:29 AM EDT2014-04-02 15:29:17 GMT
    It's allergy season, and a lot of patients are struggling right now. Dr. Brian Shaheen from Bay Medical-Sacred Heart Family Medicine says symptoms of allergies include: Congestion Clear nasal dischargeMore >>
    The first signs of pollen also signal the start of allergy season. More >>

MONDAY, Feb. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Epidurals are better pain relievers during labor than patient-controlled doses of a fast-acting painkiller called remifentanil, new research suggests.

The Dutch study is scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in New Orleans.

In a meeting news release, study author Dr. Liv Freeman, of Leiden University Medical Center, said pain relief during childbirth was "significantly better" for patients who received epidurals compared to those who received remifentanil.

At issue is pain during labor, which often is alleviated through the use of epidural pain relief. The study tested an alternative approach using remifentanil, a short-acting pain reliever, since some studies suggest it works as well as epidurals.

Remifentanil works quickly and wears off quickly, according to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, so patients can control how much they take intravenously, adjusting levels every few minutes if needed.

In the new study, researchers surveyed several hundred Dutch women who received pain relief during vaginal birth after being randomly assigned to get an epidural or the painkilling drug.

Those who received epidurals tended to report more pain relief than those who received the self-administered painkiller, and 13 percent actually switched to an epidural after initially taking the drug, Freeman's team said.

One expert said the study supplies valuable new information.

"Previous studies looking at patient-controlled [painkillers] in labor have been inconclusive due to small sample sizes," said Dr. Keith Eddleman, director of obstetrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "This study had a large number of patients and shows decisively that epidurals provide more patient satisfaction than patient-controlled [painkillers] in laboring women."

That doesn't mean epidurals are for everyone, however, since "even in the patient-controlled [painkiller] group, pain satisfaction was reasonable," Eddleman said.

"This may be important information in centers where epidural anesthesia is not readily available," he said. "In centers where both are available, patients can use this data to make an informed decision about pain relief given their individual situation."

Experts note that findings presented at medical meetings typically are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

There's more on pain relief during childbirth at the March of Dimes .

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.