Development and evaluation of a technique for spinal anaesthesia in broiler chickens

Development and evaluation of a technique for spinal anaesthesia in broiler chickens
Peer reviewed


Aims: To develop a technique for the injection of local anaesthetic into the spinal canal of broiler chickens by first determining the ideal location for needle placement based on anatomy and histology, and then using the developed technique to assess the onset and duration of action of three doses of lidocaine.

Methods: Two-month-old Ross broiler chickens (n = 30) were used in this study. Computed tomography imaging followed by anatomical examination of fresh cadavers (n = 6) were used to identify a suitable intervertebral space for injection of local anaesthetic, and landmarks to locate this space. Histological evaluation of the microanatomy of the caudal vertebral column in another six birds was used to examine the position of the spinal cord within the canal. Spinal anaesthesia was attempted using injection of lidocaine at 0.5 mg/kg (n = 6), 1 mg/kg (n = 6), and 2 mg/kg (n = 6) via the selected intervertebral space. Analgesia was tested by pinching the skin of the pericloacal area with thumb forceps to determine the onset and duration of analgesia. Respiratory rate, and cloacal temperature were measured at 0 minutes and every 10 minutes after injection until sensation returned.

Results: The space between synsacrum and first free coccygeal vertebra (synsacrococcygeal space) was selected as the most suitable site for spinal injection. In this region, the dura mater adhered to the internal wall of the spinal canal, and the subarachnoid space was large indicating that injection would be into the subarachnoid rather than the epidural space. The interval to onset of analgesia was similar for all doses of lidocaine (1.5 (SD 0.7), 2 (SD 1) and 1.3 (SD 0.5) minutes for 0.5, 1 and 2 mg/kg, respectively; p = 0.604). Duration of analgesia was longer following injection with 2 than 0.5 or 1 mg/kg lidocaine (21.3 (SD 2.5) vs. 4.5 (SD 3.5) vs. 11.3 (SD 2) minutes, respectively; p = 0.002). Mean cloacal temperature decreased between 0 and 20 minutes after injection with all doses of lidocaine (p = 0.021).

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Spinal anaesthesia in chickens is feasible and is a practical, inexpensive and simple technique for regional anaesthesia of the pericloacal area.

Keywords: Broiler chicken, spinal anaesthesia, anatomy, computed tomography, feasibility, lidocaine

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