To counteract the vasoplegia induced by spinal anesthesia (SA) and maintain blood pressure (BP) during cesarean delivery, phenylephrine is currently recommended, but norepinephrine might offer superior preservation of cardiac output. We aimed to compare the hemodynamic effects of phenylephrine and norepinephrine administered by manually adjusted continuous infusion during elective cesarean delivery.
In this pragmatic, parallel-group, double-blind randomized controlled trial, 124 parturients scheduled for elective cesarean delivery under SA in a tertiary maternity in France, between February 2019 and December 2020, were randomized to receive norepinephrine at a starting rate of 0.05 μg·kg−1·min−1 (n = 62) or phenylephrine at a starting rate of 0.5 μg·kg−1·min−1 (n = 62). In both groups, the vasopressor infusion rate was then manually adjusted to maintain maternal systolic BP above 90% of the baseline value. The primary outcome, the change in cardiac index (CI) measured by thoracic bioreactance from SA to umbilical cord clamping, was analyzed through repeated measures analysis of variance and post hoc t tests. Secondary outcomes included maternal BP and neonatal outcomes.
In the norepinephrine group, cardiac index was maintained between 90% and 100% of baseline from SA to umbilical cord clamping, whereas it was maintained at significantly lower values (81%–88%) in the phenylephrine group (P = .001). The percentage of elapsed time with a mean maternal BP <65 mm Hg and with systolic BP <80% of the baseline value was higher in the phenylephrine group: 2.9% (7.3) vs 0.5% (1.8) (absolute risk difference [ARD], −2.4%; 95% confidence interval, −4.4 to −0.5; P = .012) and 8.5% (16.6) vs 2.3% (5.2) (ARD, −6.2%; 95% confidence interval, −10.6 to −1.8; P = .006). Excluding parturients with gestational diabetes, severe neonatal hypoglycemia was more common in the phenylephrine group at 19.6% (9/46) vs 4.1% (2/49) (P = .02). The other neonatal outcomes did not differ significantly between the groups.
When administered by manually adjusted infusion during SA for cesarean delivery, norepinephrine was associated with a higher CI; both infusions were effective for maintaining BP.