Background: A major risk with epidural analgesia is accidental dural puncture (ADP), which may result in post-dural puncture headache (PDPH). This survey was conducted to explore the incidence of ADP, the policy for management of PDPH and the educational practices in epidural analgesia during labour in the Nordic countries.
Methods: A postal questionnaire was sent to the anaesthesiologist responsible for Obstetric anaesthesia service in all maternity units (n=153) with questions relating to the year 2008.
Results: The overall response rate was 93%. About 32% (22–47%) of parturients received epidural analgesia for labour. There were databases for registering obstetric epidural complications in 13% of Danish, 24% of Norwegian and Swedish, 43% of Finnish and 100% of hospitals in Iceland. The estimated incidence of ADP was 1% (n≈900). Epidural blood patch (EBP) was performed in 86% (n≈780) of the parturients. The most common time interval from diagnosis to performing EBP was 24–48 h. The success rate for EBP was >75% in 67% (62–79%) of hospitals. The use of diagnostic CT/MRI before the first or the second EBP was exceptional. No major complication was reported. Teaching of epidurals was commonest (86%) in the non-obstetric population and 53% hospitals desired a formal training programme in obstetric analgesia.
Conclusion: We found the incidence of ADP to be approximately 1%. EBP was the commonest method used for its management, and the success rate was high in most hospitals. Formal training in epidural analgesia was absent in most countries and trainees first performed it in the non-obstetric population.