Labour pain could be one of the worst pains a woman may ever experience in her lifetime. The COLEUS study is a single-centre randomised controlled trial comparing two novel epidural delivery systems developed at KKH with conventional patient-controlled epidural analgesia to reduce the incidence of breakthrough pain.

Breakthrough pain is the unscheduled epidural dosing given by the anaesthetists due to inadequate pain relief despite being on epidural analgesia during labour. The study started in early 2015 and recruitment is in progress for first-time mothers with full-term pregnancies; these mothers are assessed on their degree of satisfaction, pain and psychological vulnerability.

According to COLEUS’s lead researcher, Associate Professor Sng Ban Leong, who is also Deputy Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, and Director, KK Research Centre at KKH, women who experience increased pain during labour could be at higher risk of dysfunctional labour requiring obstetric intervention such as caesarean section or instrumental delivery. Hence, by improving the ability to detect, intervene and prevent a mother’s pain during labour, there is a reasonable opportunity to reduce maternal distress and anxiety, improving outcomes for both mother and baby.

The study is funded by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) and is a multidisciplinary collaboration involving researchers from KKH’s Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Department of Psychological Medicine as well as Duke-NUS Medical School and SCRI. It also receives industrial partner support from Innovfusion.

SCRI Biostatistics supports COLEUS in statistical analysis and manuscript-writing.