Contrast Spread After Erector Spinae Plane Block at the Fourth Lumbar Vertebrae: A Cadaveric Study

Kathryn A. Breidenbach, Sayed E. Wahezi, Soo Yeon Kim, Sarang S. Koushik, Karina Gritsenko, Naum Shaparin, Alan D. Kaye, Omar Viswanath, Hall Wu, Jung H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: In recent years, the erector spinae plane block (ESPB) has seen widespread use to treat acute and chronic pain in the regions of the thoracic spine. While limited data suggest its increasing utilization for pain management distal to the thoracic, abdomen and trunk, the anesthetic spread and analgesic mechanism of ESPB at the level of the lumbar spine has not been fully described or understood. Methods: This is an observational anatomic cadaveric study to assess the distribution of solution following an ESPB block performed at the fourth lumbar vertebrae (L4) using ultrasound guidance to evaluate the spread of a 20 ml solution consisting of local anesthetic and methylene blue. The study was performed in an anatomy lab in a large academic medical center. Following injection of local anesthetic with contrast dye, cadaveric dissection was performed to better understand the extent of contrast dye and to determine the degree of staining to further predict analgesic potential. We reviewed the findings of other ESPB cadaveric studies currently available for comparison. Results: Following cadaveric dissection in an anatomy lab, the contrast dye was observed in the ESP space, and staining was found most cranially at L2 and extending caudally underneath the sacrum. Evaluating the depth of its spread, we found it to be confined to the posterior compartment of the spine sparing the nerve roots bilaterally, which is consistent with the only other cadaveric study of ESPB performed at L4. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate the clinical utility of lumbar ESPB where posterior confinement of local anesthesia is preferred. However, further investigation is needed to determine the efficacy of ESPB in lower extremity analgesia which is predicated on ventral nerve root involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalPain and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute pain
  • Cadaver study
  • Erector spinae block
  • Regional anesthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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