Background: The optimal choice of vasopressor drugs for managing hypotension during neuraxial anaesthesia for Caesarean delivery is unclear. Although phenylephrine was recently recommended as a consensus choice, direct comparison of phenylephrine with vasopressors used in other healthcare settings is largely lacking. Therefore, we assessed this indirectly by collating data from relevant studies in this comprehensive network meta-analysis. Here, we provide the possible rank orders for these vasopressor agents in relation to clinically important fetal and maternal outcomes. Methods: RCTs were independently searched in MEDLINE, Web of Science, Embase, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and clinicaltrials.gov (updated January 31, 2019). The primary outcome assessed was umbilical arterial base excess. Secondary fetal outcomes were umbilical arterial pH and PCO2. Maternal outcomes were incidences of nausea, vomiting, and bradycardia. Results: We included 52 RCTs with a total of 4126 patients. Our Bayesian network meta-analysis showed the likelihood that norepinephrine, metaraminol, and mephentermine had the lowest probability of adversely affecting the fetal acid-base status as assessed by their effect on umbilical arterial base excess (probability rank order: norepinephrine > mephentermine > metaraminol > phenylephrine > ephedrine). This rank order largely held true for umbilical arterial pH and PCO2. With the exception of maternal bradycardia, ephedrine had the highest probability of being the worst agent for all assessed outcomes. Because of the inherent imprecision when collating direct/indirect comparisons, the rank orders suggested are possibilities rather than absolute ranks. Conclusion: Our analysis suggests the possibility that norepinephrine and metaraminol are less likely than phenylephrine to be associated with adverse fetal acid-base status during Caesarean delivery. Our results, therefore, lay the scientific foundation for focused trials to enable direct comparisons between these agents and phenylephrine.
- Caesarean section, fetal outcomes
- maternal outcomes, hypotension
- network meta-analysis, vasopressors
- spinal anaesthesia