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Vet Anaesth Analg. 2011 May;38(3):186-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2995.2011.00600.x.

A clinical study on the effect in horses during medetomidine-isoflurane anaesthesia, of butorphanol constant rate infusion on isoflurane requirements, on cardiopulmonary function and on recovery characteristics.

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Section of Anaesthesiology, Equine Department, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



To test if the addition of butorphanol by constant rate infusion (CRI) to medetomidine-isoflurane anaesthesia reduced isoflurane requirements, and influenced cardiopulmonary function and/or recovery characteristics.


Prospective blinded randomised clinical trial.


61 horses undergoing elective surgery.


Horses were sedated with intravenous (i.v.) medetomidine (7 μg kg(-1)); anaesthesia was induced with i.v. ketamine (2.2 mg kg(-1)) and diazepam (0.02 mg kg(-1)) and maintained with isoflurane and a CRI of medetomidine (3.5 μg kg(-1) hour(-1)). Group MB (n = 31) received butorphanol CRI (25 μg kg(-1) i.v. bolus then 25 μg kg(-1) hour(-1)); Group M (n = 30) an equal volume of saline. Artificial ventilation maintained end-tidal CO2 in the normal range. Horses received lactated Ringer's solution 5 mL kg(-1) hour(-1), dobutamine <1.25 μg kg(-1) minute(-1) and colloids if required. Inspired and exhaled gases, heart rate and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) were monitored continuously; pH and arterial blood gases were measured every 30 minutes. Recovery was timed and scored. Data were analyzed using two way repeated measures anova, independent t-tests or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test (p < 0.05).


There was no difference between groups with respect to anaesthesia duration, end-tidal isoflurane (MB: mean 1.06 ± SD 0.11, M: 1.05 ± 0.1%), MAP (MB: 88 ± 9, M: 87 ± 7 mmHg), heart rate (MB: 33 ± 6, M: 35 ± 8 beats minute(-1)), pH, PaO2 (MB: 19.2 ± 6.6, M: 18.2 ± 6.6 kPa) or PaCO2. Recovery times and quality did not differ between groups, but the time to extubation was significantly longer in group MB (26.9 ± 10.9 minutes) than in group M (20.4 ± 9.4 minutes).


Butorphanol CRI at the dose used does not decrease isoflurane requirements in horses anaesthetised with medetomidine-isoflurane and has no influence on cardiopulmonary function or recovery.

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