Comparison of ultrasound- and electrostimulation-guided nerve blocks of brachial plexus in dogs

  • Minori Akasaka
    Department of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Miki Shimizu
    Correspondence: Miki Shimizu, Department of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, 3-5-8 Saiwai-cho, Fuchu, Tokyo 183-8509, Japan.
    Department of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo, Japan
    Search for articles by this author
Published:January 13, 2017DOI:



      To compare the effectiveness of ultrasound- and electrostimulation-guided nerve blocks of the brachial plexus and to determine whether ultrasound guidance is feasible in conscious dogs.

      Study design

      Blinded, crossover, experimental study.


      Six clinically healthy adult Beagle dogs.


      The nerves of the brachial plexus of the right thoracic limb were blocked under ultrasound guidance (UNB) in conscious dogs and under electrostimulation guidance (ENB) in anesthetized dogs with bupivacaine (0.4 mL kg–1, 0.25%). Saline (0.4 mL kg–1) was injected in control animals. Sensory nerve blockade was evaluated by scoring cutaneous sensation in targeted nerves. Motor nerve blockade was evaluated based on weight bearing, conscious proprioception and withdrawal reflex scores. Times to execute the technique in UNB and ENB were compared using t tests (p < 0.05). Scores for sensory and motor nerve blockades in each treatment were compared with scores before treatment and with control treatment scores using nonparametric repeated-measures two-way analysis of variance. Time to onset and duration of sensory nerve block were assessed using scores for four sensory nerve functions. A successful sensory nerve block was defined by decreases in scores for these functions. Success rates of nerve blocks were compared among treatments using McNemar’s test.


      In UNB and ENB, onset times of sensory nerve blocks were 1 hour and 1.5 hours, respectively. Onset times of motor nerve blocks were 0.5 hour in both treatments. In UNB and ENB, durations of sensory nerve block were 3 hours and 0.5 hour, respectively, and durations of motor nerve block were 7.5 hours and 6.5 hours, respectively. Success rates did not differ between the techniques.

      Conclusions and clinical relevance

      The UNB brachial plexus block had a shorter onset time and longer duration than ENB. UNB can be performed in conscious dogs or those under mild sedation.


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