- Airway and airway equipment:
- Mallampati classification may underestimate difficulty of intubation
- Evaluate carefully neck mobility (presence of “buffalo hump” posteriorly)
- Look at the patient supine as well as sitting (enlarged breasts, position of neck)
- Have extra equipment (airway cart) immediately available when planning general anesthesia for a pregnant patient
- Difficult intubation is more likely (risk increased about 4-fold)
- Enlargement of lingual tonsils (protrusion of tongue) is an important reason for Mallampati 3–4 scores: this results in reduced orohypopharyngeal junction diameter
- Increased risk of injury resulting in swelling and bleeding during laryngoscopy
- When difficulty in intubation is anticipated, the route of choice for fiber-optic intubation is “oral” rather than nasal
- NPO guidelines:
- Fasting time for pregnant patients before elective cases is the same as that for the nonpregnant population
- When is a pregnant patient considered to have a full stomach?
- Presence of heartburn is suggested to be indicative of reduced lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tone (<20 cm H2O) and potential regurgitation during induction and mask ventilation
- Early onset heartburn is hormonally driven
- From about 20 weeks the enlarging uterus mechanically distorts the position of the stomach and the LES and increases intra-abdominal pressure
- Gastric emptying is “not” reduced in pregnancy until advanced stages of labor
- Looking after the fetus (see detailed discussion about fetal well-being and anesthesia):
- Every pregnant patient should have an identified designated obstetrician with hospital privileges available before any elective surgery; in an emergency, attempts should be made to contact the on-call obstetrician
- Laboratory tests:
- Routine laboratory tests are similar to those for the nonpregnant female: CBC to evaluate for presence of anemia. All other tests should be performed as clinically indicated
- Ketosis and hypoglycemia are common in pregnant patients when NPO for a prolonged period of time. This is well tolerated and routine testing is not recommended
- Type and screen should be done for all cases in case labor ensues; extent of maternal hemorrhage is unpredictable
- Postoperative planning:
- Patients who are <24 weeks pregnant are recovered in the general PACU and are discharged to the general floor (fetus is not considered viable)
- Patients who are >24 weeks pregnant are recovered and are transported to labor and delivery once stable postoperatively (monitoring, staff, and neonatology is immediately available should labor ensue)
- ICU admission criteria are similar to those for nonpregnant patients; obstetrical input into ICU care should be arranged
- Effect of maternal surgery on the offspring with emphasis on teratogenicity of anesthetic agents:
- No anesthetic drug has been shown to be clearly dangerous to the human fetus
- Incidence of stillbirth and birth defects is unchanged
- Incidence of low birth weight is increased
- Incidence of neural tube defects increased if surgery is in the first trimester
- Although some agents (N2O, benzodiazepines) have been implicated in adverse neonatal outcome, these studies have been either refuted or associated with exposure in excess of an average anesthetic
- There is no optimal anesthetic technique
- Avoid elective surgery in the first trimester
- Enhanced risk of preterm labor after abdominal and pelvic surgeries, especially in cases of acute ...
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