Background: Effective epidural anesthesia is confirmed in humans by sensory assessments but these tests are not feasible in mice. We hypothesized that, in mice, infrared thermography would demonstrate selective segmental warming of lower extremities following epidural anesthesia. Methods: We anesthetized 10 C57BL/6 mice with isoflurane and then inserted a PU-10 epidural catheter under direct surgical microscopy at T11-12. A thermal camera (thermal sensitivity ±0.05°C, pixel resolution 320x240 pixels, and spatial resolution 200 μm) recorded baseline temperature of front and rear paws, tail and ears. Thermography was assessed at baseline and 2, 5, 10, and 15 min after an epidural bolus dose of 50 μL bupivacaine 0.25% or 50 μL saline (control) using a cross-over design with dose order randomized and investigators blinded to study drug. Thermal images were recorded from video and analyzed using FLIR software. Effect over time and maximal effect (Emax) were assessed by repeated measures ANOVA and paired t-tests. Comparisons were between bupivacaine and control, and between lower vs upper extremities. Results: Epidural bupivacaine caused progressive warming of lower compared with upper extremities (P <0.001), typically returning to baseline by 15 min after administration. Mean (±SD) Emax was +3.73 (±1.56) °C for lower extremities compared with 0.56 (±0.68) °C (P=0.03) for upper extremities. Following epidural saline, there was no effect over time (Emax for lower extremities −0.88 (±0.28) °C compared with the upper extremities −0.88 (±0.19) °C (P >0.99). Conclusions: Thermography is a useful tool to confirm epidural catheter placement in animals for which subjective, non-noxious, sensory measures are impossible.
- Cross-over studies