• Gunka, Vit

    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital

    Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

    Degrees / Designations
    Primary Area of Research
    Evidence to Innovation
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    Lab Phone
    Maria Fiel DeSousa
    Assistant Phone
    604 875-2158
    Mailing Address
    Department of Anesthesia
    BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre
    Room 1Q72, 4500 Oak Street
    Vancouver BC, V6H 3N1
    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Low blood pressure after spinal anesthesia for cesarean delivery

    • Ultrasound guided epidural analgesia for labour

    • Maternal side effects of magnesium therapy

    • Non-invasive hemoglobin measurement


    I am an obstetric anesthesiologist providing pain control in labour and anesthesia for cesarean deliveries at the BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre. My research interests include the assessment of new technologies in obstetric anesthesia and studying side effects associated with anesthetic procedures and drugs.

    Current Projects

    Low blood pressure after spinal anesthesia
    Low blood pressure is the most common complication of spinal anesthesia for cesarean delivery occurring in up to 80% of patients. Low blood pressure may adversely affect both mother (nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, stomach content aspiration to lungs) and baby (decrease of oxygen flow to the placenta). My research interest focuses on the use of phenylephrine infusion to prevent low blood pressure and identification of patients who are prone to develop low blood pressure despite the use of phenylephrine.

    Epidural analgesia provides the most effective pain control in labouring women. Traditionally the epidural insertion point is selected by feel (palpation) on the patient's lower back. Ultrasound allows more precise identification of the epidural needle insertion point and provides assessment of the proper epidural needle insertion depth. In collaboration with the UBC Department of Engineering I investigate 2D and 3D ultrasound technology application for labour epidural analgesia.

    Magnesium side effects
    Magnesium therapy has been indicated for prevention of neonatal cerebral palsy in women delivering at less than 34 weeeks of gestational age. About half of these pre-term patients require cesarean delivery under spinal or epidural anesthesia. My research focuses on the combined effects of magnesium and anesthesia on mothers, specifically assessing the degree of the breathing muscle weakness and maternal sedation.

    Non-invasive hemoglobin measurement The assessment of hemoglobin concentration is one of the most common laboratory tests in pregnant patients admitted for vaginal or cesarean delivery. Normally the hemoglobin is measured in a blood sample after a needle stick. I investigate the accuracy of a non-invasive hemoglobin device (a finger clip) compared to the traditional laboratory hemoglobin measurement.

    Selected Publications

    • Agaram R, Douglas MJ, McTaggart RA, Gunka V. Inadequate pain relief with labor epidurals: a multivariate analysis of associated factors. Int J Obstet Anesth. 2009 Jan;18(1):10-4. PMID: 19046867

    • Drake E, Burym C, Money D, Pugash D, Gunka V. Anaesthetic management of a craniopagus conjoined twin delivery. Int J Obstet Anesth. 2008 Apr;17(2):174-6. PMID: 8308547

    • Gerhardt MA, Gunka VB, Miller RJ. Hemodynamic stability during labor and delivery with continuous epidural infusion. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006 Dec;106(12):692-8. PMID: 17242413

    Honours & Awards
    • Master Teacher Award, Department of Anesthesia, University of British Columbia (2004)

    • Master Teacher Award, Department of Anesthesia, University of British Columbia (2003)

    Research Group Members
    • Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Coordinator at the Department of Anesthesia BC Women's Hospital

    • Women's Health Research Institute - member