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

Open Vet J. 2020 Aug;10(2):120-127. doi: 10.4314/ovj.v10i2.1. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


Background: Loco-regional anesthetic 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. While 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 of a septic left tarso-crural joint. Due to a poor prognosis, amputation of the limb under general anesthesia was performed. Sciatic and psoas compartment blocks were attempted with the ultrasound-guided injection of ropivacaine prior to the start of the procedure. While the femoral nerve was possible to visualize, 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 anesthesia. 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 characterized by the ability to maintain the standing position, interest in food, and normal behavior.

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 anesthesia; Psoas compartment block; Sciatic nerve block; Ultrasound-guided.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Surgical / veterinary
  • Analgesia / veterinary
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / veterinary
  • Anesthesia, General / veterinary
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Camelids, New World / surgery*
  • Female
  • Femoral Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Hindlimb / surgery
  • Nerve Block / veterinary
  • Obturator Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Pain Management / veterinary*
  • Peripheral Nerves / diagnostic imaging
  • Ropivacaine / administration & dosage*
  • Sciatic Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography / veterinary


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Ropivacaine