obstetric anesthesia

The mission of the Obstetrical Anesthesiology Division is to create and maintain an environment of excellence in clinical care, learning and inquiry in order to foster exceptional, compassionate obstetric anesthesia and analgesia care to every woman during pregnancy and childbirth, train future leaders in anesthesiology and medicine and inspire them to conduct ethical research that contributes to the advancement of obstetric anesthesiology and perinatology.

The Division of Obstetric Anesthesia is responsible for anesthesia care in the Labor and Delivery (L&D) Suite at the Sloane Hospital for Women in the Children’s Hospital of New York (CHONY) on the main campus at 168th Street, and the L&D Suite at the Allen Hospital at the northern tip of Manhattan. In addition, we provide a high-risk consultation service, and coordinate with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to run the Critical Care Obstetric service. The Division of Obstetric Anesthesia provides residency and post-graduate fellowship training in state of the art techniques and strategies of labor analgesia and obstetric anesthesia. Our fellowship program has been accredited by the ACGME since 2012, the first year such accreditation was available.

In 2015, there were 4371 deliveries at the Children’s Hospital Of New York (CHONY) main campus and 2220 at the Allen Hospital, our “community hospital.” Many patients, especially at CHONY, are high risk or critically ill parturients, requiring close consultation and cooperation between the Obstetrics and Gynecology and Anesthesiology Departments. At our main campus, where most resident training takes place, the labor analgesia rate is ~80%; it is ~70% at the Allen Hospital. The cesarean section rate is ~35% at both campuses, reflecting the referral nature of much of the practice. At CHONY, there is a special emphasis on Critical Care Obstetrics, with three two-bed high-risk rooms on the labor suite equipped for full hemodynamic monitoring and other aspects of critical care for parturients with cardiopulmonary and other critical diseases. In addition, our labor suite utilizes an electronic anesthesia record (”CompuRecord”)for all cases, including labor analgesia cases, which includes automated acquisition of maternal and fetal data into the anesthesia record, which is still rare among US L&D suites.

Approximately 96% of the cesarean sections are performed using regional anesthesia. A variety of techniques of regional analgesia for labor are utilized, including epidural, spinal, and combined spinal epidural (CSE), and there is extensive use of patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) for labor. Subspecialty Obstetric Anesthesia faculty provide coverage of the main campus Labor and Delivery Suite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and for the Allen during daytime hours. The provision of patient care and resident supervision 24/7 by subspecialty obstetric anesthesiologists on the main campus is only practiced at a handful of institutions, and is a major strength of the Division. Most residents rotate through the CHONY labor suite three times (4 week rotations each) during their 3 years as clinical anesthesia residents, and there is a 2 week rotation, usually in the CA-2 year, at the Allen Hospital to increase exposure to “community hospital obstetrics.” The residents care for all patients on the Labor and Delivery floor, including the most complex obstetric or medical cases, and perform consultations along with a Fellow and/or Attending. A typical distribution of cases for each resident during a 4-week rotation is:

  • Epidural analgesia for labor: 30-40 (~85 % will be combined spinal-epidural procedures)
  • Cesarean section: 20 (~15 spinal, 5 epidural (from labor), 0-1 GA)
  • Assisted deliveries (forceps/vacuum) or other procedures: 1-3
  • Cervical cerclage (spinal): 2-4
  • Postpartum tubal ligation (spinal or epidural): 1-3
  • External cephalic version (spinal or epidural): 1-2
  • Fetal/placental procedures: 0-1

The lecture series and other educational programs have been a strength of the Division for 2 decades, and have received very positive evaluations from our residents. Didactic lecture/ discussions or case presentations take place each morning during teaching rounds, and significant efforts are made to protect resident learning time, using Attendings and Fellows to attend to the clinical needs . A syllabus of topics is covered during the rotation, much of which is also available on a Divisional webpage.

We have an active research program. Recent and current research in the Division and in the Department relevant to obstetric anesthesia include a variety of studies of drug combinations and techniques for labor analgesia and post-partum pain relief, a program of research into the role of genetic polymorphisms of pregnancy complications and issues (preterm labor, preeclampsia, labor progress, postoperative pain) and response to anesthesia, comparisons of the reliability of CSE versus epidural analgesia techniques in labor, investigations into weight regulation in pregnancy, and laboratory investigation of the basic physiology of uterine muscle contraction. Our digital database of labor analgesia and cesarean section cases is beginning to provide a resource for health services research.  Over the past decade and a half, abstracts from this Division have regularly competed in the Best papers at the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) meetings; we have won the “Best Paper of the Meeting” award 4 times, and have received a similar award at the International Society for Anesthetic Pharmacology annual meeting. To see a selected list of recent publications from the Division, please click here.

Charles Cain, MD, MBA
George Gallos, MD
Stephanie Goodman, MD, Administrative Director, Fellowship Program Director
Ruth Landau-Cahana, MD, Associate Division Chief
Allison Lee, MD
Suzanne Mankowitz, MD
Marie-Louise Meng, MD
Elena Reitman, MD
Laurence Ring, MD
Richard Smiley, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Obstetrical Anesthesia

Current Fellows 2016-17:
Susan Cosgrove, MD  Residency: Columbia University/NewYork Presbyterian Hospital
Joshua Younger, MD Residency: Albert Einstein School of Medicine/Montefiore Hospital

For further information, write or contact:
Richard Smiley, MD, PhD
Virginia Apgar MD Professor of Anesthesiology
Columbia University Department of Anesthesiology
Chief of Obstetric Anesthesia
Columbia University Medical Center
630 West 168th Street PH-5
New York, NY 10032
Tel: 212-342-2028
Fax: 212-342-2742
Email: rms7@cumc.columbia.edu
Columbia University Medical Center Department of Anesthesiology