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Lab Anim. 2008 Jul;42(3):326-30. doi: 10.1258/la.2007.06005e.

Persistent changes in arterial blood gases in fetal sheep.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA.


Two anaesthetic protocols were compared using pregnant sheep. In both groups of animals, anaesthesia was induced using an intravenous (i.v.) injection of diazepam and ketamine. The ewes were then intubated for positive pressure ventilation using 0.8 L/min of nitrous oxide and 2 L/min oxygen with 1.1-1.8% halothane. If the ewe showed any signs of awakening, one of two protocols was followed. First, the halothane concentration was increased to 2-3% until the ewe was completely anaesthetized. Second, the halothane concentration was not altered, but the ewe was given doses of i.v. diazepam (0.1 mg/kg) and ketamine (1 mg/kg) until again completely anaesthetized. At the completion of surgery, maternal recovery was rapid and similar between the two groups. However, five days after surgery, the fetal arterial Po(2) and oxygen content of the fetuses receiving additional halothane (1.9 +/- 0.2 kPa and 4.4 +/- 1.0 mL/100 mL) were statistically significantly depressed when compared with the fetuses receiving additional diazepam and ketamine (2.9 +/- 0.1 kPa and 7.0 +/- 0.5 mL/100 mL). These results led us to conclude that certain anaesthetic protocols, in spite of good maternal recovery, can lead to deleterious effects upon the fetus that persist for at least five days after surgery.

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