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Locating the Target Nerve and Injectate Spread in Rabbit Sciatic Nerve Block
  1. Duk Hyun Sung, M.D., Ph.D
  1. From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea
  1. Reprint requests: Duk Hyun Sung, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Samsung Medical Center, #50 Irwon-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, South Korea 135-710. E-mail: dhsung{at}


Background and Objectives: The purpose of this study is to determine how close the needle tip is placed to the target nerve using a nerve stimulator and to determine how far the injectate spreads in percutaneous nerve blocks.

Methods: Twenty-four sciatic nerves of New Zealand white rabbits were located with a 2-dimensional needle manipulator and a nerve stimulator (pulse width: 100 μs for group I, 250 μs for group II). The stimulation current required to elicit a motor response for each insertion depth of the needle and the nerve-needle distance at which the required current reached the minimum were measured. Another 10 sciatic nerves were located manually using a nerve stimulator and neurolyzed with a mixed solution of 5% phenol and Indian ink (100 μL).

Results: The nerve-needle distance was in the range of −1.2 mm to +2.8 mm in group I (1.1 ± 0.9 mm [mean ± standard error] in absolute value) and −0.2 mm to +4.8 mm (2.2 ± 1.7 mm [mean ± standard error] in absolute value) in group II (positive values signify the center of the beveled surface is past the nerve), when the stimulation current reached the minimum (average minimum current: 0.47 mA in group I, 0.37 mA in group II). Indian ink spread over a significant distance (25.4 ± 0.5 mm [mean ± standard error]; range, 19-31 mm) longitudinally within the perineural tissue, and axonal degeneration was observed linearly at the peripheral portion of the nerve fascicle in a similar pattern as Indian ink spread.

Conclusions: The target nerve was located within 5 mm from the needle with less than 0.5-mA stimulation current. The injectate spread to more than 20 mm on average even when a small volume (100 μL) of the injectate was injected in rabbit sciatic nerves.

  • Nerve block
  • Neurolysis
  • Nerve stimulator
  • Peripheral nerve

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