RESEARCH PAPER: Ultrasound-guided nerve blocks of the pelvic limb in dogs


Yael Shilo, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis, One-Shields Ave. Davis, CA 95616 USA. E-mail:


Objectives  To evaluate the efficacy of ultrasound-guidance in nerve blockade of the sciatic and saphenous nerves in dogs and to determine if this technique could allow lower anaesthetic doses to be used with predictable onset and duration of effect.

Study design  Prospective randomized (for dose and leg) blinded experimental crossover trial with 10 day washout period.

Animals  Six healthy female Hound dogs aged 12.3 ± 0.5 (mean ± SD) months and weighing 18.7 ± 0.8 (mean ± SD) kg.

Methods  An ultrasound-guided, perineural injection was used with saline at 0.2 mL kg−1 (Sal) or bupivacaine 0.5% at 0.05 (low dose; LD), 0.1 (medium dose; MD), or 0.2 (high dose; HD) mL kg−1, divided 2/3 at the sciatic nerve and 1/3 at the saphenous nerve. Blocks were performed using dexmedetomidine sedation with atipamezole reversal immediately after completion of the injections. Motor/proprioceptive and sensory functions were scored using a 0–8 and a 0–2 scale, respectively. Clinically relevant blocks were defined as a motor score ≥2 and sensory score ≥1. Nonparametric methods were used for statistical analysis.

Results  No adverse effects were noted. There was a significant difference between the treatments with bupivacaine and the saline control, but not between the three bupivacaine treatments. Success rates of clinically relevant sciatic and saphenous blocks were both 67% (CI 95% 0.22–0.96). Onset and duration of the blocks were variable; 20–160 and 20–540 minutes, respectively.

Conclusion and clinical relevance  None of the bupivacaine doses was significantly superior, though there was a tendency for a better block with the high bupivacaine dose. Either the technique or the doses used need further modification before this method will be useful in clinical practice.