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J Wildl Dis. 2000 Apr;36(2):324-34.

Evaluation of isoflurane and propofol anesthesia for intraabdominal transmitter placement in nesting female canvasback ducks.

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Department of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Heart rate, occurrence of apnea, body temperature, quality of anesthesia and nest abandonment were compared during either propofol or isoflurane anesthesia of nesting female canvasback ducks (Aythya valisineria) at 15 to 18 days of incubation. One hundred eighteen canvasbacks were assigned randomly to three treatments so that nest abandonment could be compared among treatments from May to July 1995 and 1996. Sterile dummy silicone implants were placed during an abdominal laparotomy while ducks were anesthetized with either propofol or isoflurane, or ducks were flushed from the nest but not captured (control). Propofol was delivered through an intravenous catheter, while isoflurane was delivered in oxygen. Propofol provided smooth, rapid induction and recovery, whereas ducks recovering from isoflurane tended to struggle. At the nest, ducks in the propofol group were given additional boluses until they were lightly anesthetized, whereas birds that received isoflurane were released. All birds survived surgery but one death occurred prior to surgery in 1995 using propofol during a period without ventilation and monitoring. Adequate artificial ventilation is recommended to prevent complications. Heart rate declined significantly in both years during isoflurane anesthesia and in 1995 during propofol anesthesia but not 1996. During both isoflurane and propofol anesthesia, body temperature declined significantly over time. Nest abandonment was significantly different among treatments and occurred in all treatment groups in both years, but propofol (15%) and control groups (8%) had lower than expected abandonment compared to isoflurane (28%). Propofol offers several advantages over isoflurane for field use; equipment is easily portable, lower anesthetic cost, and ambient temperature does not alter physical characteristics of the drug. Advantages over isoflurane, including lower nest abandonment following intraabdominal radio transmitter placement, make propofol a good anesthetic choice for field studies.

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