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Comparison of three techniques for paravertebral brachial plexus blockade in dogs


Eva Rioja, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pretoria, Private bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 Pretoria, South Africa. E-mail:


Objective  To compare success and complication rates, based on staining of nerves and other structures, among three techniques of paravertebral brachial plexus blockade (PBPB) in dogs.

Study design  Prospective randomized design.

Animals  A total of 68 thoracic limbs from 34 dogs.

Methods  Limbs were randomly assigned to blind (BL) (n = 24), nerve stimulator-guided (NS) (n = 21) or ultrasound-guided (US) (n = 23) technique. Injections were made with 0.3 mL kg−1 of lidocaine mixed with new methylene blue. Time to perform each block and current used during NS technique were recorded. Dogs were anesthetized during the blocks and euthanized once completed. Dissections were performed to evaluate staining of nerves, spinal cord, mediastinum, pleura and vessels. An anova and Tukey adjustment for time, logistic regression for association between current and nerve staining and a generalized linear mixed model for staining of different structures were used. Significance was considered when p ≤ 0.05.

Results  The median (range) number of nerves stained was 2 (0–4) with BL, 1 (0–3) with NS and 1 (0–4) with US guided technique. No significant differences in staining of C6, C8 and T1 or other structures were found among techniques. Nerve C7 was more likely to be stained by BL (p = 0.05). Time to perform the blocks was significantly different among techniques, with mean ± SD duration in minutes of 3.6 ± 1.8 with BL, 6.3 ± 2.7 with US and 12.2 ± 5 with NS. The most common complication was staining of the spinal cord (29%, 38% and 39% with BL, NS and US, respectively).

Conclusions  Success rates were low and complication rates were relatively high, based on staining, with the three techniques.

Clinical relevance  The use of more advanced techniques for PBPB in dogs is not justified according to this study. Clinical significance of the complications encountered in this study should be evaluated.