Despite technological advances in diagnostic imaging, diagnostic anaesthesia remains the cornerstone of lameness investigations in horses. It is often not possible to localise the source of lameness confidently on clinical history and examination alone, and there may be more than one site causing the problem. In such cases, a systematic approach should be adopted working from the foot in a proximal direction. If the initial history and clinical examination raise suspicion of a particular site as the source of lameness, a targeted approach can be used to improve the efficiency of the process and reduce the number of injections required. This article, the first in a two-part series, reviews the basic principles involved in diagnostic anaesthesia and the various perineural techniques performed in the distal limb. The second article, to be published in a subsequent issue of In Practice, will cover intrasynovial anaesthesia of the distal limb.
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