Maternal mortality, for which preeclampsia is a major cause, is a problem in Nigeria. Accurate data are available for caesarean sections in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu. We therefore studied the outcome of caesarean section among these high-risk patients. We conducted a retrospective survey of hospital records of patients with preeclampsia/eclampsia who had caesarean delivery in this unit over a four-year span from July 1998 to June 2002. There were 3926 deliveries and 4036 births (3611 live births), with 898 women (23%) delivered by caesarean section. Of these, 125 (14%) had preeclampsia/eclampsia, 103 (82.4%) presenting for emergency caesarean delivery and 22 (17.6%) elective. General anaesthesia was used in 116 patients (92.8%) and spinal in nine. The major indications for surgery were severe preeclampsia/eclampsia in patients with unfavourable cervix (68%), fetal distress/intrauterine growth restriction (7.2%) and previous caesarean section (6.4%). There were six maternal deaths, all with general anaesthesia, giving a case fatality rate of 5.2% of general anaesthetics or 4.8% of caesarean deliveries. The cause of death was anaesthetic in three patients, cerebrovascular accident and pulmonary oedema in two and intraoperative haemorrhage in one. There were 13 stillbirths and 10 neonatal deaths. Maternal and fetal mortality were high. Poverty, late presentation, lack of equipment and inexperienced management were major contributory factors. Use of spinal anaesthesia should be encouraged in view of recent favourable reviews and cheaper cost.
International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia 05/2005; 14(2):108-13. DOI:10.1016/j.ijoa.2004.10.011