Peripheral nerve stimulation under ultrasonographic control to determine the needle-to-nerve relationship

Diego A Portela, Pablo E Otero, Martina Biondi, Marta Romano, Simonetta Citi, Tommaso Mannucci, Angela Briganti, Gloria Breghi, Carlos Bollini
Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia 2013, 40 (6): e91-9

OBJECTIVE: To determine the needle-to-nerve distances during electrical nerve location in dogs at different currents and pulse duration using a peripheral nerve stimulator (PNS) under ultrasound control (US), and the minimal electrical thresholds (MET) necessary to obtain a motor response (MR) after achieving needle-to-nerve contact.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective in vivo experimental trial in a clinical setting

ANIMALS: Thirty dogs, scheduled for locoregional anaesthesia of the sciatic nerve.

METHODS: Needle-to-nerve distance was measured ultrasonographically after obtaining the MR of sciatic nerve with 2, 1 and 0.5 mA and pulse duration 0.1 ms (NS0.1). Thereafter the needle was placed in contact with the nerve and MET was determined. The procedure was repeated with 0.3 ms (NS0.3). Finally the needle was reintroduced to contact the sciatic nerve guided only by US, thus MET-US was determined. Data were analysed using Kruskal-Wallis or Mann-Whitney tests.

RESULTS: Needle-to-nerve distances were greater when MR was obtained with 2 mA than with 1 and 0.5 mA at 0.1 and 0.3 ms. No significant differences were observed between the needle-to-nerve distances using 0.1 or 0.3 ms. The MET [median (range)] was 0.4 (0.18-1.3) mA in NS0.1, 0.32 (0.12-0.8) mA in NS0.3; while MET-US was 0.7 (0.32-1.5) mA. When the needle contacted the nerve, the MR achieved with currents below 0.3 mA was obtained in 17.2, 40 and 0% of cases using NS0.1, NS0.3 and US respectively.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The electrical current necessary to obtain a MR decreased as the needle moved towards the nerve. However when the needle tip contacted the nerve, an MR with low current intensity could not be obtained. Thus the absence of motor response at currents below 0.3 mA cannot rule out needle-epineurium contact. When ultrasound is combined with PNS, it is more important to assess the correct needle position than searching for an MR at low currents.


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