Surgically inserted rectus sheath catheters (RSCs) are used increasingly for analgesia after cystectomy and other abdominal surgery. Currently, there is little information on the optimal positioning of RSCs to allow maximal spread of local anaesthetic. This study sought to assess the spread of dye injected via RSCs and to highlight the extent of its coverage in a fresh unembalmed cadaveric cystectomy model in order to confirm the nerve endings that are likely to be anaesthetised with RSCs.METHODS
Four cadavers underwent lower midline incision with limited bladder mobilisation. A RSC was inserted into the eight hemiabdomens. The RSCs were positioned either anterior (n=5) or posterior to the rectus muscle (n=3). Dye was injected down the RSCs to evaluate spread. The eight hemiabdomens were dissected anatomically to determine the surface area of dye spread and nerve root involvement.RESULTS
The mean surface area of dye spread with anteriorly placed RSCs was 30.6cm2 anterior and 25.9cm2 posterior to the rectus muscle. The mean surface area of dye spread with posteriorly placed RSCs was 11.3cm2 anterior and 37.3cm2 posterior to the rectus muscle. The mean number of nerve roots stained with anteriorly and posteriorly placed RSCs was 3.8 and 2.7 respectively. Subcutaneous spread of dye was seen with one anterior RSC insertion. Peritoneal spread was seen with one anteriorly positioned RSC.CONCLUSIONS
This study has demonstrated efficient nerve root infiltration with anteriorly and posteriorly positioned RSCs. It appears that dye spreads between the fibres of the rectus muscle rather than out laterally to the nerve roots when spreading from its initial compartment.