Evaluation of ultrasound-guided pecto-intercostal block in canine cadavers

Published:January 06, 2022DOI:



      To describe the technique for performing an ultrasound-guided pecto-intercostal fascial block (PIFB) and compare two volumes of injectate in canine cadavers.

      Study design

      Prospective experimental cadaveric study.


      A total of 11 canine cadavers (11.8 ± 1.9 kg).


      Parasternal ultrasound-guided injections were performed within the pecto-intercostal fascial (PIF) plane, between the deep pectoral and external intercostal muscles, at the intercostal space between ribs four and five. Each hemithorax was injected with 0.25 mL kg−1 (treatment low volume, LV) or 0.5 mL kg−1 (treatment high volume, HV) of 1% methylene blue dye. Treatments were randomly assigned to either right or left hemithorax, with each cadaver injected with both treatments, for a total of 22 injections. Anatomical dissections were performed to determine staining of ventral cutaneous branches of intercostal nerves, surrounding nerves and musculature and spread of injectate. The presence or absence of intrathoracic puncture was also noted.


      The PIF plane was identified and injected in each hemithorax. No significant differences between treatments LV and HV were found for number of ventral cutaneous nerve branches stained or any other analyzed variable. The ventral cutaneous branches of intercostal nerves (T3–T8) were variably stained, and the most commonly stained nerves were T5 (6 and 10), T6 (8 and 9) and T7 (2 and 7) in treatments LV and HV, respectively. Staining outside the immediate parasternal region was noted in both treatments, with greater spread away from the parasternal region in treatment HV. No intrathoracic staining was found.

      Conclusion and clinical relevance

      Ultrasound-guided PIF injections resulted in staining of ventral cutaneous branches and parasternal musculature; however, the spread observed was inadequate to provide effective analgesia to the sternum. In vivo studies are warranted to investigate this regional anesthetic technique in veterinary patients.


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