Spinal anesthesia is a standard technique for cesarean section but can cause hypotension which may be related to venous pooling secondary to progesterone-induced decreases in vascular tone. This study investigated the use of a sequential compression mechanical pump with thigh-high sleeves with compression cycles timed to venous refilling. We hypothesized that this would recruit pooled venous blood from the lower limbs, maintain the central blood volume and thus decrease the incidence of hypotension.
One hundred parturients scheduled for elective cesarean section under spinal anesthesia were recruited and randomly assigned to use of either a mechanical pump (Group M) or control (Group C). A standardized protocol for co-hydration and anesthesia was followed. Hypotension, defined as a decrease in systolic blood pressure by >20% from baseline, was treated with 6-mg boluses of intravenous ephedrine. The incidence of hypotension was defined as the primary outcome. Median ephedrine requirement was taken as a measure of the severity of hypotension.
Hypotension occurred in 12 of 47 (25.5%) patients in Group M compared to 27 of 45 (60%) in Group C (P=0.001). The median [range] ephedrine dose was greater in Group C (12 [0-24]mg) compared to Group M (0 [0-12]mg) (P<0.001). There was no difference between groups in the time to onset of hypotension.
The use of a sequential compression mechanical pump that detects venous refilling and cycles accordingly, reduced the incidence and severity of hypotension after spinal anesthesia for cesarean section.