Backgound: The usefulness of coagulation tests performed before epidural analgesia for surgery or to alleviate labour pain is controversial. The aims of this study were: 1) to evaluate the prevalence of abnormal tests in a large cohort of healthy pregnant women and their association with epidural hematoma; 2) to assess the approach of the anesthesiologists to women with abnormal tests; 3) to evaluate the cost of performing coagulation tests before epidural analgesia in all healthy pregnant women. Methods: Data regarding epidural analgesia, epidural hematoma, PT, APTT, fibrinogen and platelet count were extracted from medical charts. Results: There was no case of epidural hematoma in 2546 pregnant women undergoing epidural analgesia. PT and APTT results were obtained in 2871 women; fibrinogen in 4063 women; platelet count in 5090 women. Three of them (0.1%) had a prolonged PT, 4 (0.14%) had a prolonged APTT, 27 (0.53%) had platelets ≤100 × 109/L and 37 (0.91%) had plasma fibrinogen levels <3 g/L. No further tests were requested by the anesthesiologists in these women. Only women with platelets <80 × 109/L were denied epidural analgesia. Based on the data from the literature on the frequencies of epidural hematoma after epidural analgesia, a total cost ranging from 4.5 to 40 million Euros to perform coagulation tests would be necessary to avoid one case of epidural hematoma. Discussion: Unselected coagulation tests before epidural analgesia are not recommended, because epidural hematoma is extremely rare in healthy pregnant women and the cost of screening is not justified.
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