Can the Rhomboid Major Muscle Be Used to Identify the Thoracic Spinal Segment on Ultrasonography? A Prospective Observational Study

Haesun Jung, Junyeol Bae, Jungsoo Kim, Yongjae Yoo, Ho Jin Lee, Hyungsang Rho, Andrew Hogyu Han, Jee Youn Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: We investigated the thoracic segment corresponding to the inferior margin of the rhomboid major muscle (RMM) using ultrasound (US) to evaluate its potential as a reliable anatomic landmark for segment identification. DESIGN: A prospective observational study. SETTING: An operating room. SUBJECTS: Patients who underwent procedures around the thoracic spine. METHODS: Four hundred segments corresponding to the RMM's inferior margin were identified through the use of paravertebral sagittal US and confirmed by fluoroscopy in 100 participants in the prone position with upward and downward shoulder rotation, comprising four datasets (up-right, up-left, down-right, and down-left). The US identification of the RMM's inferior margin was dichotomously scored (clear vs ambiguous). Each dataset was divided into two groups (dominant segment group vs remaining segments group), which were compared. Factors relevant to the dominant segment associated with the RMM's inferior border were determined through univariable analyses. RESULTS: The T6 segment was observed most commonly (59.5%) along the RMM's inferior border on paravertebral sagittal US acquired in the prone position, followed by T5 (25.0%), T7 (12.8%), and T4 (2.7%). The segments corresponding to the RMM remained unchanged by shoulder posture in most participants (n = 74, 74%). The RMM's inferior border was clearly distinguishable in 330 cases (82.5%). When the RMM's inferior border was clearly identified, the corresponding segment was likely to match T6 in all datasets, with odds ratios ranging from 3.24 to 6.2. CONCLUSIONS: The RMM's inferior border over the transverse process corresponded to T6 most frequently on paravertebral sagittal US, and its deep fascia was clearly visible in most cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1670-1678
Number of pages9
JournalPain medicine (Malden, Mass.)
Issue number10
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2022


  • Erector Spinae Plane Block
  • Paravertebral Block
  • Rhomboid Major Muscle
  • Thoracic Spinal Segment
  • Ultrasonography


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