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An ultrasound-guided technique for axillary brachial plexus nerve block in rabbits


Regional anesthesia techniques, such as nerve blocks, are routinely used in humans and can contribute to multimodal approaches to pain management in research animals. Ultrasound guidance is an emerging aspect of regional anesthesia that has the potential to optimize local delivery and distribution of anesthetic agents, thereby reducing the amounts of these agents that must be administered. The authors developed an ultrasound-guided technique for effective block of the axillary brachial plexus in rabbits. They used this technique to carry out nerve block in 14 rabbits. The procedure was accomplished in a relatively short amount of time and achieved successful nerve block in all rabbits with no adverse effects. Sonographic visualization of the distribution of the local anesthetic ropivacaine led to administration of smaller anesthetic doses in eight of the rabbits without affecting the duration of nerve block. The authors conclude that their technique is feasible and safe and provides effective analgesia of the thoracic limb in rabbits. They recommend that this technique be integrated into multimodal approaches to pain management in rabbits undergoing thoracic limb surgery.

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Figure 1: Macroscopic dissection of the brachial plexus of the rabbit, showing close proximity between the axillary vessels (A, axillary artery; V, axillary vein) and the brachial plexus.
Figure 2
Figure 3: Imaging the axillary area of the rabbit.
Figure 4: Introduction of the neurostimulation needle under sonographic guidance.
Figure 5: Injection of ropivacaine around the brachial plexus.


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We thank Dr. Bruno Fonseca and Dra. Dolores Garcia Olmo for their critical review and helpful comments on the original manuscript and Angel Lorente and Albert Cored for their careful assistance to animal management. The project was funded by a grant from the Fundación Mutua Madrileña.

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Correspondence to Carla Fonseca.

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Fonseca, C., Server, A., Esteves, M. et al. An ultrasound-guided technique for axillary brachial plexus nerve block in rabbits. Lab Anim 44, 179–184 (2015).

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