MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle


Paul R. Greenough

, FRCVS, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Last full review/revision Sep 2015 | Content last modified Sep 2015
Topic Resources

For distal digital analgesia (used for surgical or diagnostic procedures), the dorsal site is located on the dorsal axis proximal to the interdigital space close to the metacarpal or metatarsal phalangeal joint. The needle should be placed with care (because the proper digital artery can be found at the dorsal site), and 10 mL of 2% lidocaine injected. If the needle is inserted deep into the interdigital space, the nerves of the flexor surface can be reached. This obviates the necessity of a flexor site block for simple procedures. The distribution of the nerve supply to the axial face of the digits of the forelimb is not constant, which makes this technique unreliable for digital analgesia of the forelimb.

The preferred flexor site is a little lower than the dorsal site because it is difficult to pass a needle through the partially cartilaginous palmar/plantar ligament. The medial and lateral sites are located at the level of the dewclaws, and the needle is inserted dorsally (horizontal in the standing animal) from a point 2.5 cm slightly proximal to the dewclaws. For the flexor site and the medial and lateral sites, ~5–8 mL of 2% lidocaine is injected. For surgery of the digit (eg, amputation), the dorsal, palmar/plantar, and medial or lateral sites are used, depending on the claw. For interdigital surgery (eg, removal of corns), both the dorsal and palmar/plantar sites are used. Differential diagnosis can be aided by selective anesthesia of the nerves of the digit.

The diagrams on this page illustrate the sites for four regional nerve blocks in the front and hind feet. The site selected should be perfused with 10 mL of 2% lidocaine using an 18–20 gauge needle.

Intravenous regional analgesia is frequently used for lengthy surgical procedures such as arthrodesis. Sedation and restraint is advised. A tourniquet is applied just below the hock or knee, the hair is clipped, and the skin sterilized from a site over a vein. Lidocaine (10–30 mL) without epinephrine is injected to produce analgesia within ~10 min. The tourniquet should never be kept in place for >60 min. When surgery is complete, the tourniquet should be loosened gradually to prevent a flood of anesthetic suddenly entering the general circulation. Concurrent injection of antibiotic may be helpful.

Lameness in Cattle
Overview of Lameness in Cattle
Physical Examination of a Lame Cow
Locomotion Scoring in Cattle
Computerized Recording of Digital Lesions in Cattle
Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle
Radiography in Cattle
Arthrocentesis and Arthroscopy in Cattle
Risk Factors Involved in Herd Lameness of Cattle
Footbaths of Cattle
Functional Claw Trimming of Cattle
Prevalent Lameness Disorders in Intensively Managed Herds of Cattle
Digital Dermatitis in Cattle
Pododermatitis Circumscripta in Cattle
White Line Disease in Cattle
Toe Necrosis Syndrome in Cattle
Sole Hemorrhage in Cattle
Thin Sole in Cattle
Heel Erosion in Cattle
Other Disorders of the Interdigital Space in Cattle
Interdigital Dermatitis in Cattle
Interdigital Phlegmon in Cattle
Interdigital Hyperplasia in Cattle
Disorders of the Horn Capsule and Corium in Cattle
Laminitis in Cattle
Double Sole in Cattle
Foreign Body in Sole of Cattle
Vertical Fissures in Cattle
Horizontal Fissures in Cattle
Corkscrew Claw in Cattle
Slipper Foot in Cattle
Disorders of the Bones and Joints in Cattle
Ankylosing Spondylosis in Cattle
Degenerative Arthropathy in Cattle
Coxofemoral Luxation in Cattle
Patellar Luxation in Cattle
Fetlock Dislocation in Cattle
Hip Dysplasia in Cattle
Fractures in Cattle
Septic Arthritis of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint in Cattle
Serous Tarsitis in Cattle
Neurologic Disorders Associated with Lameness or Gait Abnormalities in Cattle
Suprascapular Paralysis in Cattle
Radial Paralysis in Cattle
Ischiatic Paralysis in Cattle
Obturator Paralysis in Cattle
Femoral Paralysis in Cattle
Peroneal Paralysis in Cattle
Tibial Paralysis in Cattle
Spastic Syndrome in Cattle
Spastic Paresis in Cattle
Soft-tissue Disorders Causing Lameness in Cattle
Carpal Hygroma in Cattle
Rupture of the Gastrocnemius Muscle in Cattle
Rupture of the Peroneus Tertius Muscle in Cattle
Tarsal Cellulitis in Cattle
Others also read
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Test your knowledge
Musculoskeletal Disorders in Large Animals
A seven-year-old Quarter horse gelding presents with a 1-week history of mild lameness. During the examination, the horse raises his head as he places weight on his left forelimb and drops it when placing weight on the right forelimb. Which limb is most likely affected in this horse?
Become a Pro at using our website 

Also of Interest

Become a Pro at using our website