Objective To describe a new approach to block the femoral nerve and to evaluate the distribution of a dye injected into the psoas compartment using a new femoral nerve block approach; to assess its clinical application, when combined with a sciatic nerve block, for surgical anaesthesia/analgesia of the pelvic limb in dogs.
Study design Prospective anatomical, research and clinical study.
Animals Two dog cadavers; two dogs that had to be euthanized for reasons unrelated to this study, and 15 dogs undergoing pelvic limb orthopaedic surgery.
Methods Phase 1: anatomical dissections were performed to determine a simple method to approach the femoral nerve within the psoas compartment. Phase 2: 0.1 mL kg−1 of a lidocaine-new methylene blue solution was injected bilaterally after successful electrolocation of the femoral nerve in two anaesthetized dogs. Colorant spread was evaluated through femoral nerve dissections after euthanasia. Phase 3: in 15 dogs undergoing pelvic limb orthopaedic surgery under light general anaesthesia with isoflurane, intra-operative analgesic effect (cardiovascular responses) and early post-operative pain score, of the novel femoral nerve block combined with a sciatic nerve block as the sole analgesic protocol, were evaluated.
Results Phase 1: a needle inserted from the lateral aspect of the lumbar muscles, cranially to the iliac crest and with a 30–45° caudo-medial direction, reaches the femoral nerve in the caudal portion of the psoas compartment. Phase 2: Four femoral nerves were stained >2 cm. Phase 3: this novel lateral pre-iliac approach, combined with the sciatic nerve block, blunted the intra-operative cardiovascular response to surgical stimulation in 13 out of 15 anaesthetized dogs. In addition, rescue analgesia was not required in the early post-operative 2-hour period.
Conclusion and clinical relevance The lateral pre-iliac femoral nerve block technique may provide adequate intra- and early post-operative pain relief in dogs undergoing pelvic limb surgery.