Introduction: Dural puncture epidural analgesia (DPE) is a modification of conventional epidural analgesia that involves the intentional puncture of the dura with a spinal needle through the needle placed in the epidural space, without a medication being injected intrathecally. There have been contradictory findings regarding better analgesia and better block quality. Methods: A systematic literature search was done to identify randomized controlled trials (RCT) comparing DPE with epidural analgesia. The risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane tool. Risk ratio and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Results: Five RCTs including 581 patients were identified, five reporting on labor analgesia and one on caesarean section. Single studies suggested slightly better analgesia by finding a median time to achieve sufficient analgesia of two minutes less in the DPE group, a higher number of women having a pain score <10/100 at 20 min, a reduction in the number of epidural top-ups and better sacral spread. The studies did not show a difference between DPE and epidural analgesia for catheter replacement or manipulation rates, the incidence of intravascular placement or unilateral block. Conclusion: There is a lack of clear evidence on either the benefits or the risks of the DPE technique, such that a recommendation for or against its routine use is premature. Two of the three studies showing a beneficial effect of DPE came from the same institution and replication of the findings by other groups is warranted.

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Journal International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia
Heesen, M, Rijs, K. (K.), Rossaint, R, & Klimek, M. (2019). Dural puncture epidural versus conventional epidural block for labor analgesia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia. doi:10.1016/j.ijoa.2019.05.007