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Hormonal, metabolic and physiological effects of laparoscopic surgery using a detomidine–buprenorphine combination in standing horses


Dr P van Dijk, Section Anaesthesiology, Department of Equine Sciences, Veterinary Faculty, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, PO Box 80 153 3508 TD, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Objective  To assess the hormonal, metabolic and physiological effects of laparascopic surgery performed under a sedative analgesic combination of detomidine and buprenorphine in standing horses.

Study design  Prospective study.

Animals  Eight healthy adult Dutch Warmblood horses and five healthy adult ponies undergoing laparoscopy were studied. Five healthy adult horses not undergoing laparoscopy were used as a control group.

Methods  The sedative effect of an initial detomidine and buprenorphine injection was maintained using a continuous infusion of detomidine alone. The heart and respiratory rate, arterial blood pH and arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide tensions were monitored, while blood samples were taken for the measurement of glucose, lactate, cortisol, insulin and nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA). The same variables were monitored in a control group of horses which were sedated, but which did not undergo surgery. At the end of the sedation period the effects of detomidine were antagonized using atipamezole.

Results  The protocol provided suitable conditions for standing laparoscopy in horses. Laparoscopy induced obvious metabolic and endocrine responses which, with the exception of NEFA values, were not significantly different from changes found in the control group. While atipamezole did not produce detectable adverse effects, it is possible that anatagonism may not be essential.

Conclusions  The technique described reliably produces adequate sedation and analgesia for laparoscopic procedures. The level of sedation/analgesia was controlled by decreasing or increasing the infusion rate. Antagonism of the effects of detomidine may not be necessary in all cases.