Obstetric Anesthesia Research

The Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology has been active in clinical research since the mid-1990s. Research led by Linda S. Polley, M.D. determined the Minimum Local Anesthetic Concentration (MLAC) of multiple analgesics and adjuncts used for labor analgesia. The model provided the first quantitative and systematic application of dose-response pharmacodynamics for neuraxial anesthesia, and was instrumental in the development of current high-volume, low-concentration, local anesthetic dosing regimens.

More recently, our research studies and publications have focused on the prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity. Former faculty member Jill M. Mhyre, M.D. published a landmark study in Anesthesiology in 2007, identifying the postoperative period as the highest risk for serious respiratory depression and death Her study of maternal cardiac arrest, completed at U-M, was published as the lead article in Anesthesiology in April 2014 with an accompanying editorial.

The first epidemiological study of maternal sepsis and associated risk factors in the U.S. was led by Melissa E.B. Bauer, D.O. and was recognized as one of the Best Abstracts at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Obstetrics and Gynecology has published our team's meta-analysis which shows that Systematic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) criteria overlap with normal maternal physiology, thus calling for new criteria to be developed to aid in early diagnosis of maternal sepsis. 

Current studies underway include a multicenter retrospective case control study to validate risk factors for maternal sepsis and establish SIRS criteria adjusted for the physiological changes of pregnancy to aid in early diagnosis. Further research will focus on novel techniques to identify maternal sepsis and infection as well as interventions to decrease maternal mortality and morbidity. 

For More Information


Melissa Bauer, D.O.

Director of Obstetric Anesthesia Research