Open Veterinary Journal

Open Veterinary Journal

Peer-Reviewed Journal 
ISSN 2218-6050 (Online), ISSN 2226-4485 (Print) 

"Case Report"

Ultrasound-guided psoas compartment and sciatic nerve blocks for pain management of hind limb procedures in the alpaca (Vicugna pacos)

Andrew Foster*, Alex McSloy and Paolo Monticelli

Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL97TA, UK


Background: Loco-regional anaesthetic techniques are considered important in the multimodal approach to analgesia in both human and veterinary medicine. No such techniques are described in the alpaca, bar the use of epidural. This is in part due to the lack of anatomical description for this species. Whilst this limitation exists, the use of ultrasound guidance makes peripheral nerve blocks a viable possibility in the alpaca.

Case description: A 12-month-old alpaca was referred for the treatment a septic left tarso-crural joint. Due to a poor prognosis, amputation of the limb under general anaesthesia was performed. A sciatic and psoas compartment block was attempted with the ultrasound-guided injection of ropivacaine prior of the start of the procedure. While the femoral nerve was possible to visualise, no obturator nerve was identified. A 5-year old alpaca was also referred for a left hind lateral claw removal, due to a squamous cell carcinoma. The sciatic nerve block was performed prior to the claw amputation under general anaesthesia. No changes in heart and respiratory rate, or blood pressure suggestive of nociception were observed in either of these cases. At the end of both the procedures, the patients experienced uneventful recoveries characterised by the ability to maintain the standing position, interest in food and normal behaviour.

Conclusion: This report identifies the ease of performance and the challenges encountered using the ultrasound-guided psoas compartment and sciatic nerve blocks in the alpaca. It is our hope that this report encourages the use of ultrasound-guided loco-regional techniques in this species.

Keywords: Alpaca, Loco-regional anaesthesia, Psoas compartment block, Sciatic nerve block, Ultrasound-guided.

Cite this paper:

Foster, A., McSloy, A. and Monticelli, P. 2020. Ultrasound-guided psoas compartment and sciatic nerve blocks for pain management of hind limb procedures in the alpaca (Vicugna pacos). Open Vet. J. 10(2), 120-127.