, Volume 276, Issue 1, pp 71-72
Date: 08 Aug 2006

The epidural “fever”: What does an obstetrician need to know?

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Maternal fever has been routinely defined as an increase in core body temperature above 38°C in laboring patients [14], and it may be a “pre-anesthetic” (e.g., infection-related) or a “post-anesthetic” (labor epidural analgesia-related) problem [2, 3].

Over the last several years many researchers have investigated the controversy as to whether there is a causal relationship between epidural labor analgesia and maternal intrapartum (“post-anesthetic”) “fever” [14]. Although it may be clear that the maternal temperature increases in some women who receive labor epidural analgesia (despite other risk factors such as prolonged labor and pre-term rupture of membranes, there is clearly an independent association between epidural analgesia and the increase in maternal temperature). The cause and mechanism of this increase are still controversial and not fully elucidated [4].

The possible explanations of a gradual increase in maternal core body temperature and the resulting hyperthermia includ ...