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Vet Anaesth Analg. 2015 May;42(3):280-5. doi: 10.1111/vaa.12208. Epub 2014 Jul 21.

The effect of the inspired oxygen fraction on arterial blood oxygenation in spontaneously breathing, isoflurane anaesthetized horses: a retrospective study.

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Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia of Domestic Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Gent, Merelbeke, Belgium.



To investigate the influence of two inspired oxygen fractions (FiO(2)) on the arterial oxygenation in horses anaesthetized with isoflurane.


Retrospective, case-control clinical study.


Two hundred equine patients undergoing non-abdominal surgery (ASA class 1-2), using a standardized anaesthetic protocol and selected from anaesthetic records of a period of three years, based on pre-defined inclusion criteria.


In group O (n = 100), medical oxygen acted as carrier gas, while in group M (n = 100), a medical mixture of oxygen and air (FiO(2) 0.60) was used. Demographic data, FiO(2), arterial oxygen tension (PaO(2)) and routinely monitored physiologic data were recorded. The alveolar-arterial oxygen tension difference [P(A-a)O(2)] and PaO(2)/FiO(2) ratio were calculated. The area under the curve, standardized to the anaesthetic duration, was calculated and statistically compared between groups using t-tests or Mann-Whitney tests as appropriate. Categorical data were compared using Chi-square tests.


No significant differences in age, body weight, sex, breed, surgical procedure, position, anaesthetic duration or arterial carbon dioxide tension were found. Mean FiO(2) was 0.78 in group O and 0.60 in group M. Compared to group O, significantly lower values for PaO(2) and for P(A-a)O(2) were found in group M. In contrast, the PaO(2)/FiO(2) ratio and the percentage of horses with a PaO(2) <100 mmHg (13.33 kPa) were comparable in both groups.


Although a reduction of the inspired oxygen fraction resulted in a lower PaO(2), the P(A-a)O(2) was also lower and the number of horses with PaO(2) values <100 mmHg was comparable.


In healthy isoflurane anaesthetized horses, the use of a mixture of oxygen and air as carrier gas seems acceptable, but further, prospective studies are needed to confirm whether it results in a lower degree of ventilation/perfusion mismatching.


arterial oxygen tension; horse; inspired oxygen fraction

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