BACKGROUND : The erector spinae plane block (ESP) is a novel approach for blockade of the spinal nerves in infants, children, and adults. Until recently, the gold standard for truncal procedures includes the paravertebral and epidural blocks. However, the exact mechanism by which this blockade is achieved is subject to debate.
METHODS : 2.3 mL (1 mL/kg) of iodinated contrast dye was injected bilaterally into the erector spinae fascial plane of a fresh unembalmed preterm neonatal cadaver (weighing 2.3 kg), to replicate the erector spinae plane block and to track the cranio‐caudal spread of the contrast dye using computed tomography. The “block” was performed at vertebral level T8 on the right‐hand side and at vertebral level T10 on the left‐hand side.
RESULTS : Contrast dye was spread over three dermatomal levels from T6 to T9 on the right‐hand side, while on the left‐hand side, the spread was seen over four dermatomal levels from T9 to T11/12. Contrast dye also spread over the costotransverse ligament, into the paravertebral space and further lateral from the lateral border of the erector spinae muscle into the intercostal space. However, no spread was seen in the epidural space.
CONCLUSION : The erector spinae plane block is a versatile technique that can be part of the multimodal postoperative analgesic strategy for truncal surgery. In this study, contrast material dye was tracked over four vertebral levels in the paravertebral space (suggesting an approximate volume of 0.5‐0.6 mL per dermatome).