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Acta Vet Scand. 2005;46(3):149-57.

The effect of transdermal delivery of fentanyl on activity in growing pigs.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


Recently, decreased activity levels have been observed in pigs treated postoperatively with transdermal delivery of fentanyl (TD-fentanyl) after isoflurane anaesthesia. Whether the change in behaviour is related to opioid-induced sedation or to insufficient pain relief remains to be investigated. This study was therefore undertaken to evaluate the effect of TD-fentanyl 50 microg h(-1) on the activity level with and without isoflurane anaesthesia. Eight pigs (25.4 +/- 5.2 kg) were submitted to a cross-over study and given two treatments; 1) fentanyl patch applied after 30 minutes of anaesthesia (treatment A/F) and 2) fentanyl patch without anaesthesia (treatment F). The pigs' behaviour was observed from a video recording instantaneously every 10 minutes for 24 h before treatments and up to 72 h after the patch attachment. Venous blood samples were taken 1, 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 h after the patch application. The behaviour recordings showed that TD-fentanyl did not produce sedation in any pig. No differences were found between the two treatments in activity level, weight gain or serum fentanyl concentration. This concentration measured after 24 h was 0.27 +/- 0.11 ng ml(-1) and 0.47 +/- 0.40 ng ml(-1) in the A/F and F group, respectively. In conclusion, transdermal delivery of 50 microg h(-1) fentanyl did not cause inactivity in growing pigs. However, the large variations in serum fentanyl concentration indicate that drug absorption from transdermal patches is unpredictable and sometimes deficient.

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