Preeclampsia and the anaesthesiologist: current management


Purpose of review: Preeclampsia remains an important cause of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Recent interest in angiogenic biomarkers as a prognostic indicator is reviewed, together with analgesic, anaesthetic and critical-care management of the preeclamptic patient.

Recent findings: There has been recent interest in the angiogenic biomarkers placental growth factor and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 in establishing the diagnosis of preeclampsia and guiding its management. Neuraxial blocks are recommended for both labour and operative delivery if not contraindicated by thrombocytopenia or coagulopathy, although a safe lower limit for platelet numbers has not been established. For spinal hypotension phenylephrine is noninferior to ephedrine in preeclamptic parturients and may offer some benefits. When general anaesthesia is required, efforts must be made to blunt the hypertensive response to laryngoscopy and intubation. Transthoracic echocardiography has emerged as useful technique to monitor maternal haemodynamics in preeclampsia.

Summary: Improvements in the diagnosis of preeclampsia may lead to better outcomes for mothers and babies. Peripartum care requires a multidisciplinary team approach with many preeclamptic women receiving neuraxial analgesia or anaesthesia. Women with severe preeclampsia may require critical-care support and this should meet the same standards afforded to other acutely unwell patients.

Belgian Anesthesia Trainees vzw/asbl
 Kroonlaan 20, 1050 Elsene
 Enp. number: 0707.717.938