Effect Of Lithotomy Position On Spinal Anesthesia

The lithotomy position, as we have mentioned, is a position where the patient has his legs lifted over the level of his hips and then pulled through stirrups so he cannot move them. This is a rather compromising position because while it is excellent for the doctors to carry out their examinations as well as surgical procedures, the poor patient is in a rather awkward position to say the least. More than the feeling of embarrassment, was this position responsible for any other complication? Among those that have been listed are sciatica, hypothermia and lower leg pain.

In a study conducted to see if an administered anesthetic spread to the spine as well as it did in other positions however, the lithotomy position performed as well as the supine position. There had been doubts whether or not spinal anesthesia was as effective in the lithotomy positions as in others. This study proved that despite all its other negatives, on this score, there was no difference.

In the study, thirty hysterectomy patients were observed. They were all administered the drug hyperbaric tetracaine, then half of them were placed in the lithotomy position while the other half were kept in the supine position. After half an hour, they were checked for heart rate, arterial pressure and the spread of the anesthetic. There was no difference among the patients of both groups.

There have been an increasing number of studies in the US because a lot of surgery involves using the lithotomy position. While most countries have moved on from this position, the US continues to use it in many of their clinics and for many more surgical procedures and examinations besides childbirth. With doubts about this position rearing their ugly head, studies are necessary to prove that maybe itís time the US moved on to. The risk of side effects and complications simply because of a position that accords doctors convenience is definitely not a good enough reason to keep this barbaric practice going.