• Analgesia;
  • epidural;
  • epinephrine;
  • malrotation;
  • obstetric outcome;
  • bupivacaine;
  • sufentanil

Background: Epidural analgesia (EDA) is the most efficient method for pain relief during labour, but there is still a debate as to whether it interferes with the normal process of delivery. Some authors argue that the incidence of instrumental deliveries, Caesarean section, malrotation and protracted labour is increased in parturients receiving EDA.

Methods: 1000 parturients were prospectively randomized to receive EDA either with a high dose of local anaesthetic (0.25% bupivacaine with adrenaline=HD) or with a low dose (0.125% bupivacaine with sufentanil 10 μg=LD).

Results: The incidence of instrumental delivery and Caesarean section and the need for oxytocin was reduced in the LD compared to HD group. The delivery time was similar with HD and LD among primiparous, but decreased significantly among multiparous in the LD group. The incidence of malrotation was low in both groups. The quality of analgesia was equal during the first stage in the 2 groups, but was lower in the LD group during the second stage. More parturients in the LD group ambulated, but this did not affect the incidence of instrumental delivery.

Conclusion: It is concluded that a lower dosage of bupivacaine combined with sufentanil in epidural analgesia significantly improves the obstetric outcome as compared to a higher dosage of bupivacaine with adrenaline using intermittent bolus technique.