Posts tagged Evidence based medicine.

Does a GA CS increase PPD risk? Plus LMA studies & COVID vaccine optimism

GA caesarean section & post-partum depression

This large study (Guglielminotti 2020) of 428,204 New York caesarean section records (2006-2013), including 34,356 general anaesthetics (8%), investigated the association between mode of anaesthesia and post-partum depression (PPD). Other studies have shown an association between caesarean section (emergency > elective) and PPD. (Sun 2021, Xu 2017, and others), though this is the first to look specifically at general anaesthesia as a PPD risk factor.

Guglielminotti and Li found that general anaesthesia increased the odds of severe PPD by 54% (aOR 1.54, 1.21-1.95), and suicidal ideation by a massive 91% (aOR 1.91, 1.12-3.25), though not a significant increase in anxiety or PTSD.

The researchers discuss many potential causative factors, particularly known associations between GA CS & poor pain control, and subsequent pain & PPD – while also acknowledging the obvious potential for confounders. Of note patients receiving GA were older, more often non-Caucasian, had more co-morbidities, neonatal complexity, and lower socio-economic levels – also all independently associated with PPD risk.

In order to quantify the potential confounding contribution of emergency vs elective status, the researchers employed the novel E value:

To assess the impact of emergent cesarean delivery on our results, we calculated the E value associated with the aOR for the risk of PPD and suicidality. This relatively new metric takes into consideration 2 associations: (1) that between the confounder (emergent cesarean delivery) and the outcome (PPD); and (2) the association between the confounder (emergent cesarean delivery) and the exposure (general anesthesia).

An E value of 1.7 for the unmeasured confounder emergent cesarean delivery indicates that to explain away the association between general anesthesia and depression, either: (1) emergent cesarean delivery increases the risk of depression by at least 70%; or (2) emergent cesarean delivery is at least 70% more prevalent among general anesthesia than among neuraxial anesthesia. Either association is clinically plausible.

Keep it in perspective...

We already know that general anaesthesia for CS is suboptimal: it compromises both maternal experience and safety, but it should (hopefully) only ever be a chosen mode of anaesthesia when there is a true contraindication to regional anaesthesia – even at the modestly-high 8% GA rate among this New York cohort.

Looking at it from the other end, bear in mind that the modestly-faster time-to-incision for GA over regional is also of questionable neonatal benefit.

The take-home:

Just another reason to avoid GA CS when possible – but you already knew that, right?

"...general anesthesia is a potentially modifiable risk factor for PPD. This finding provides further supporting evidence favoring neuraxial over general anesthesia in cesarean delivery whenever possible."

Supraglottic airway training and manikins

Interesting prospective simulation & equipment study by way of the University of Freiburg. Schmutz et al. investigated how effective five different second generation supraglottic airway devices (SADs) performed in two common airway manikins: the TruCorp AirSim® and the crowd favourite, Laerdal's Resusci Anne® Airway Trainer™.

While ventilation was achieved in all SAD-manikin combinations, the Resusci Anne® Airway Trainer™ was associated with better and more consistent performance for SAD position, participant subjective assessment and ease of gastric tube insertion for most of the SADs. The TruCorp AirSim® did however achieve better leak pressures across most of the SADs (LMA® Supreme™, Ambu® AuraGain™, i-gel®, KOO™-SGA & LTS-D™).

But then, what are the implications for airway simulation training? The researchers correctly note that:

The most important quality of a manikin is the ability to simulate the real-world conditions and thus to give the trainee an authentic feedback.

The bottom line for SAD manikins?

While considering how manikin choice and SAD availability match with your aims for simulation training, the bigger picture is that the primary goal of any manikin-SAD coupling is real-life fidelity – and for that reason, participant subjective assessment is king. And so in this study at least, the Resusci Anne® Airway Trainer™ wins.

Read on for head rotation with LMAs & COVID vaccine persistence...

PONV, Perioperative Bleeding Aids & Surgery Timing After COVID

A big PONV meta-analysis

Interesting Cochrane meta-analysis looking at PONV prophylaxis from German (Weibel et al. 2021) that included almost 100,000 study participants across 585 trials. Interesting not so much because it confirms much of what we already new (or assumed, based on our common PONV prophylaxis drug choices), but because it reassures us that side-effects from commonly used PONV drugs are low to non-existent.

PONV Takeaway:

Granisetron is probably the best single-agent or in combination with other agents because of it's efficacy (better than ondansetron), low-cost, long duration, and absent side-effects.

A cognitive aid to better manage perioperative bleeding

Although the benefits of cognitive aids to many areas of anaesthesia are well established, our resistance to using decision support tools persists. Whether due to misplaced perceptions of losing autonomy or Dunning Kruger-adjacent inflated belief in our ability to perform under pressure, is unclear.

In Anaesthesia, Kataife et al. (2021) describe a cognitive aid for better managing perioperative haemorrhage, the Haemostasis Traffic Light algorithm. Using a simulation-based RCT across two centres (University Hospital Zurich & The Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, N=84), they showed that using the HTL improved case solutions (OR 7.23, 3.82-13.68), quickened therapeutic decisions, (HR 1.97, 1.18-3.29), improved therapeutic confidence, (OR 4.31, 1.67-11.11) and reduced workload perception.

The aim of the HTL is to improve both situational awareness and decision making, by integrating clinical judgement and point-of-care testing (ROTEM) within an accessible, structured algorithm.

Haemostasis Traffic Light takeaway:

Kataife's study again shows the benefit of cognitive aids, particularly in critical, time-sensitive situations. The anaesthesia and critical care community's historical resistance to decision-support tools requires challenge.

Read on for timing of surgery after COVID infection...

Flattening the curve of pandemic research

The wave of COVID research continues, much of it low-quality and hurriedly published. This is apparently the norm for academic publishing during a pandemic: fast, furious and haphazard.

However, two very significant reviews appeared in The Lancet this week that impact and inform anaesthetists and other critical care specialists.

Post-operative mortality, COVID & surgery

Early pandemic data suggested that COVID-19 patients having even minor elective surgery suffered worse post-operative outcomes, particularly high post-operative mortality. The COVIDSurg Collaborative has confirmed this after a multicenter trial across 24 countries.

Across the entire 1,128 patient cohort, 30-day mortality was a jaw-dropping 24%. Yes, 1 in 4 died within 30 days of surgery.

Pulmonary complications (pneumonia, ARDS or unexpected post-op ventilation) were very common (51%) and were associated with an even higher mortality (38%; and 83% of all deaths). Mortality was unsurprisingly associated with older age ≥ 70 years, male sex, ASA ≥ 3, emergency surgery, major surgery, and malignancy.

But even among low-risk groups, post-operative mortality was shockingly high: 30-49 year olds (6%), women (18%), ASA 1-2 patients (12%), and even those without comorbidities (7%). Being asymptomatic at admission did not have a significant protective effect (22% vs 27% mortality).

Elective surgery still carried a 19% mortality rate, and even for minor surgery mortality was 16%! Anaesthesia modality (local, regional or GA) did not have a significant impact.

Click through to read the summary or full-text, though the obvious take-away is that non-essential surgery should be avoided as much as is possible in those with confirmed or suspected COVID.

This will have huge implications for recommencement of elective surgery in many pandemic-hit countries. (Cook & Harrop-Griffiths explore this very topic in an NHS-context in their recent editorial.)

Read on for physical distancing, face-mask and HCQ research...

Old, new and current trends in obstetric anaesthesia

Some interesting research on common and not-so-common obstetric anaesthesia topics: both new trends and continuing trends, as well as a cautionary medicolegal reminder.

Supraglottic airways for GA Caesarean?

Metodiev & Mushambi's editorial looks at the attitude shift among obstetric anaesthesiologists to more favourably consider the LMA or SGA for Caesarean section under GA.

They review the evidence for aspiration risk, particularly noting what we learned from NAP4 (2011) but contrast this with many studies showing safety of SGAs for GA CS (over 8,000 patients in total, with Halaseah 2010 investigating 3,000 alone!). Interesting, but before we get too excited keep in mind that the populations studied are likely very different from parturients you may typically look after.

They conclude:

"...there is insufficient evidence to recommend universal or selective replacement of tracheal tubes with SGA devices during general anaesthesia for Caesarean delivery. Aspiration remains the main concern." – Metodiev & Mushambi (2020)

Cautionary reminders of neuraxial injury

McCombe & Bogod reviewed 21 years of obstetric anaesthetic medicolegal claims, noting common themes around consent, types of nerve injury, and recognition and management failures.

Not only is neurological injury the second most common reason for obstetric anaesthetic claims (behind inadequately managed pain during Caesarean section), it carries the highest average claim cost.

The review is full of many useful observations, but Reynold's 2000 advice regarding interspace level choice for spinal access is by far the most important: always access the intrathecal space at the lowest possible level, and "...the L2/3 interspace should not be an option."

McCombe & Bogod spend some time exploring the variability of cord termination level, individual variability of the intercristal line, and the inaccuracy of anaesthetist interspace level estimation. Well worth reading the whole review.

Read on for CS vasopressor choices & heavy bupivacaine alternatives...

All Things Endotracheal

There have been some interesting papers recently exploring all-things endotracheal, relevant to anaesthesiologists, intensivists and emergency physicians alike.

Some challenge long-accepted dogma (ETT size), others confirm natural trends (cuffed paediatric tubes), or delve into ventilation physiology long forgotten by some of us (the ventral shift...).

Here's a brief stroll through five articles that may challenge your practice.

Choose smaller...

First, Karmali & Rose challenge the dogma surrounding endotracheal tube sizing in adult anaesthesia. They explore both the functional consequences of ETT size, good and bad, as well as the implications for airway trauma.

They describe how a modern ETT ≥ 6.0mm ID will accomodate most intraluminal devices, and in fact smaller sizes might even facilitate some airway procedures. Similarly, inspiratory and expiratory flow dynamics of smaller ETTs are inconsequential for most fit and healthy patients.

Noting that there is wide individual variation in tracheal dimensions, such that some patients are poorly served by a traditional ETT-size choice, they highlight the correlation between ETT size and airway trauma, hoarseness and sore throat, noting that for many patients a 'large' ETT offers little practical benefit.

"Instead of opting for ‘the largest tube that the larynx will comfortably accommodate’, we perhaps should consider using the smallest tube which permits the safe conduct of anaesthesia."

For routine anaesthesia of ASA 1 & 2 patients, an ETT sized 6.0-7.0 mm is probably the best balance between ventilation needs and airway trauma.

Don't cough

Yang et al.'s high quality meta-analysis explores the use of intravenous lidocaine/lignocaine to reduce a common, but potentially significant post-operative problem: coughing on extubation. Both coughing (reported incidence 15-94%) and post-operative sore throat (21-72%) are common among surgical patients.

This meta-analysis of 16 trials (though only 1,516 total subjects) showed a significant reduction in cough RR 0.64 (0.48-0.86 & NNT=5), and post-operative sore throat RR 0.46 (0.32-0.67), though no difference in laryngospasm, adverse events or time to extubation when using modern volatile agents.

However, they could make no clear recommendation of optimal timing or dose of lidocaine – although past reviews had found suggestion of a dose-effect, settling on 1.5 mg/kg as the best choice (Clivio et al. 2019).

Regardless, a simple intervention with peri-operative IV lidocaine reduces coughing on extubation and reduces post-operative sore throat, without any apparent increase in adverse events.

Read on for more ETT tidbits...

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