Phenylephrine is recommended for the management of hypotension after spinal anaesthesia in women undergoing caesarean section. Noradrenaline, an adrenergic agonist with weak β-adrenergic activity, has been reported to have a more favourable haemodynamic profile than phenylephrine. However, there are concerns that noradrenaline may be associated with a higher risk of fetal acidosis, defined as an umbilical artery pH < 7.20. We performed a systematic review of trials comparing noradrenaline with phenylephrine, concentrating on primary outcomes of fetal acidosis and maternal hypotension. We identified 13 randomised controlled trials including 2002 patients. Heterogeneity among the studies was high, and there were too few data to calculate a pooled effect estimate. Fetal acidosis was assessed in four studies that had a low risk of bias and a low risk of confounding, that is, studies which used a prophylactic vasopressor and where women received the allocated vasopressor only. There were no significant differences between these studies. No significant differences were observed for hypotension. Two trials found a significantly lower incidence of bradycardia when using noradrenaline. Cardiac output was significantly higher after noradrenaline in two of three studies. For other secondary outcomes including nausea, vomiting and Apgar scores at 1 and 5 min, no studies found significant differences. The evidence so far is too limited to support an advantage of noradrenaline over phenylephrine. Concerns of a deleterious effect of noradrenaline on fetal blood gas status cannot currently be assuaged by the available data from randomised controlled studies.

anaesthesia, spinal, caesarean section, noradrenaline, phenylephrine, systematic review,
Department of Anesthesiology

Heesen, M, Hilber, N. (N.), Rijs, K. (K.), Rossaint, R, Girard, T. (T.), Mercier, F.J. (F. J.), & Klimek, M. (2020). A systematic review of phenylephrine vs. noradrenaline for the management of hypotension associated with neuraxial anaesthesia in women undergoing caesarean section. Anaesthesia. doi:10.1111/anae.14976