Objective: To examine the effect of sternal or lateral recumbency, with or without cranial extension of the hindlimbs, on the distance between the dorsal lumbosacral laminae in dogs.
Study design: Blinded, randomized, crossover, experimental study.
Animals: A total of 19 canine cadavers.
Methods: Computed tomography of the lumbosacral junction was performed in four positions: sternal and right lateral recumbency, with hindlimbs extended cranially or not. Order of positioning was randomized. The lumbosacral interlaminar (LSI) distance, defined as the distance between the dorsal laminae of the seventh lumbar vertebra (caudal margin) and sacrum (cranial margin), was measured for each position by two independent assessors who were unaware of positioning. Mean distances in each position were compared using a paired t-test, corrected for multiple comparisons.
Results: For n = 19 cadavers [6 female; median (range) age 9 (0.3-16) years; weight, 20.4 (1.0-34.0) kg], cranial extension of the hindlimbs increased the LSI distance, compared with control, in both sternal (9.2 ± 2.2 mm versus 3.1 ± 1.3 mm, p < 0.001) and right lateral recumbency (8.2 ± 1.9 mm versus 4.9 ± 1.5 mm, p < 0.001). With the hindlimbs extended cranially, sternal recumbency increased LSI distance when compared with right lateral recumbency (p < 0.001).
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Cranial extension of the hindlimbs in both sternal and lateral recumbency increases the LSI distance to an extent that is both statistically significant and of potential clinical relevance. Although ease of epidural access or injection was not assessed, the small (1 mm) difference in LSI distance between cranial hindlimb extension in sternal and right lateral recumbency is unlikely to be of clinical relevance. Conversely, cranial extension of the hindlimbs in either sternal or lateral recumbency would be expected to facilitate epidural injection.