Intermittent vs continuous administration of epidural ropivacaine with fentanyl for analgesia during labour

P. D. W. Fettes (Lead / Corresponding author), C. S. Moore, J. B. Whiteside, G. A. McLeod, J. A. W. Wildsmith

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    96 Citations (Scopus)


    Background. Many years ago regular intermittent bolus administration of epidural local anaesthetic solution was recognized to produce more effective analgesia than continuous infusion, but only recently has the development of suitable pumps allowed the former technique's wider evaluation. Methods. In this randomized, double-blind trial, 40 primigravid patients had a lumbar epidural catheter inserted, and plain ropivacaine 0.2% 15-20 ml was titrated until analgesia and bilateral sensory block to T10 were produced (time zero). Patients were then given either an infusion of ropivacaine 2 mg ml -1 with fentanyl 2 µg ml -1 at 10 ml h -1, or hourly boluses of 10 ml of the same solution. Pain, sensory block and motor block were measured frequently. If requested, additional 10 ml boluses of the study mixture were given for analgesia. Results. There were no differences between the two groups in patient characteristics, obstetric/neonatal outcome, or in sensory or motor block. A total of 12 (60%) patients in the continuous group required one or more additional boluses compared with 4 (20%) patients in the intermittent group (95% CI 9.6-61.7%, P=0.02). Therefore the intermittent group received a lower total drug dose than the infusion group (P=0.02). Duration of uninterrupted analgesia (time to first rescue bolus) was longer in the intermittent group (P <0.02). Conclusions. The intermittent group required fewer supplementary injections and less drug to maintain similar pain scores, sensory and motor block compared with the continuous group. This represents a more efficacious mode of analgesia. © 2006 Oxford University Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)359-364
    Number of pages6
    JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


    • Adult
    • Amides
    • Analgesia, Epidural
    • Analgesia, Obstetrical
    • Analgesics, Opioid
    • Anesthetics, Local
    • Double-blind method
    • Drug administration schedule
    • Female
    • Fentanyl
    • Humans
    • Infusion Pumps
    • Pain measurement
    • Pregnancy
    • Pregnancy outcome


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