Clinical evaluation of the anaesthetic sparing effect of brachial plexus block in cats


Martina Mosing, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Chester High Road, Neston CH64 7TE, UK. E-mail:


Objective  To evaluate the isoflurane sparing effect and the post-surgical analgesia provided by a brachial plexus block (BPB) in cats undergoing distal thoracic limb surgery.

Study design  Prospective randomized blinded clinical study.

Animals  Twenty client-owned cats.

Methods  Cats were assigned to receive either no BPB (group NB) or a nerve stimulator guided BPB (group BPB) using lidocaine (3.6 mg kg−1) and bupivacaine (1.2 mg kg−1). Pre-medication consisted of midazolam and ketamine intravenously (IV). Anaesthesia was induced with propofol IV to effect and maintained with isoflurane delivered in oxygen and a continuous rate infusion of fentanyl (2 μg kg−1 hour−1). End-tidal isoflurane concentration (Fe′ISO) was adjusted every 3 minutes guided by changes in cardiorespiratory parameters and reflexes present, to maintain a stable depth of anaesthesia. Five time points were chosen to record all parameters and compare values between groups. Recovery and post-operative pain assessment were performed using a visual analogue scale (VAS) at 15 and 45 minutes after extubation and thereafter at hourly intervals until 5 hours after placement of the BPB.

Results  No clinically significant differences were seen for heart rate, respiratory rate and non-invasive blood pressure between groups. Mean Fe′ISO was significantly lower in group BPB compared with group NB at all time points. In group NB, all intraoperative measurements of Fe′ISO were significantly higher compared with baseline (3 minutes before start of surgery) measurements. During recovery, VAS scores for group BPB were significantly lower than for group NB. Additional analgesics were needed in all cats within the study period.

Conclusion and Clinical relevance  In cats undergoing orthopaedic surgery of the thoracic limb, BPB reduced intra-operative isoflurane requirement and pain during the early post-operative period when compared with procedures without a BPB. BPB is a useful adjunct to anaesthesia in such cases.