New research from north-west England published in Anaesthesia (a journal of the Association of Anaesthetists) shows that during the first wave of COVID-19, the proportion of caesarean section deliveries carried out under general anaesthesia approximately halved, from 7.7% to 3.7%. This lower rate of general anaesthesia (also 3.7%) was also found among the small number of women having caesarean sections who had tested positive for COVID-19.
"At the onset of the global pandemic of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), guidelines recommended using regional anaesthesia for caesarean section in preference to general anaesthesia, to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers," say the authors, who include Dr Kailash Bhatia, Saint Mary's Hospital, Dr Malachy Columb, Wythenshawe Hospital, UK, and colleagues.
Overall, the authors conclude that the general anaesthesia rate for women having caesarean sections declined significantly during the peak of the COVID-19. Anaesthetic decision-making recommendations from anaesthetic guidelines and presence of an on-site anaesthetic consultant in the delivery suite could be among the key factors that potentially influenced this decline.