Erector Spinae Plane Block In Dogs Undergoing Spinal Surgery

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting dogs that are undergoing back surgery and weighs between 9 and 88 lbs. for a clinical research trial.  This study will test a local anesthesia technique, called the erector spinae plane (ESP) block, for pain control in dogs undergoing back surgery.

  • Inclusion Criteria:  Any dog that is undergoing back surgery with the UF Vet Neurology Service and weighs between 9 and 88 lbs.
  • Treatment: All dogs enrolled in the study will receive a standard anesthetic protocol and intraoperative monitoring. After the pet is anesthetized, and before the surgery starts, he/she will be assigned to receive either the ESP block or the traditional pain medication. The ESP block consists in the injection of local anesthetic medication close to the spinal column (backbone) using an ultrasound machine to accurately guide the needle to the injection site. Blood samples will also be collected to measure cortisol and glucose as part of the response to stress. This study is a randomized trial; therefore, each dog has 50% chance of receiving the ESP block or the traditional pain treatment consisting of opioid medications.
  • Costs: The study will cover the cost of the ESP block (if your dog is assigned to that group) and the blood samples for the evaluation of the cortisol and glucose measurements. Other costs related to your visit will be discussed with you during the evaluation appointment
  • Contact: Contact the Neurology Staff at (352) 392-2235, or complete the Study Inquiry form to see if your dog qualifies.
  • Study Investigators: Dr. Diego A. Portela and Dr. Marta Romano


Similarly to humans, animals suffer from pain when they undergo surgery. Pain and discomfort resulting from surgery are routinely treated by administering pain medications such as opioids. Another strategy to provide pain relief is to numb up the area involved using local anesthetics. The latter option has significant advantages compared to the traditional administration of pain medications (like opioids) having fewer side effects and potentially providing complete pain relief. This study aims at testing a local anesthesia technique, called the erector spinae plane (ESP) block to provide pain control in dogs undergoing back surgery. This technique will be compared to the traditional pain control to determine which one provides better relief with fewer side effects.


As part of both the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Academic Health Center, Veterinary Medicine is dedicated to advancing animal, human and environmental health through teaching, research, extension and patient care.


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