Background: It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), and the consequences of HIV infection are a leading cause of death in women aged 15-44 yr. Thus, HIV-1 disease, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, occurs with increasing frequency in the parturient, and there is little information concerning the risks of regional anesthesia. Fear of spreading infection to the central nervous system or adverse neurologic sequelae have led some clinicians to advise against regional anesthesia. Thus, this study was undertaken to evaluate the possible problems or risks associated with regional anesthesia in parturients infected with HIV-1 and to determine whether anesthesia affected the clinical course of the disease. Methods: The clinical course and immunologic function of 30 parturients infected with HIV-1 were evaluated prospectively. Extensive medical and laboratory evaluation before delivery and 4-6 months postpartum was undertaken. Medical problems related to HIV-1 disease and use of antiviral drugs also were monitored. The anesthetic management was dictated by the clinical situation and the patient's wishes with careful postpartum follow-up to evaluate possible neurologic changes or infection. Results: Regional anesthesia was administered in 18 parturients, and 12 received small doses of opioids or no analgesia. There were no changes in the immunologic parameters studied (CD4+ p24, β2 microglobulins), and HIV-1 disease remained stable in the peripartum period. There were no infections, complications, or neurologic changes in the peripartum period. Sixty-eight percent of the infants were HIV-1-negative and, in 21% of infants, the HIV-1 status was indeterminate (probably negative). Conclusions: This prospective study of parturients infected with HIV-1 demonstrated that regional anesthesia can be performed without adverse sequelae. There were no neurologic or infectious complications related to the obstetric or anesthetic course. The immune function of the parturient was stable in the peripartum period. Although the number of patients studied was small, with careful medical evaluation, regional anesthesia is an acceptable choice in the parturient infected with HIV-1.
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
- Anesthesia: obstetric
- Human immunodeficiency virus