The reversal of the cardiovascular effects of the α2-adrenoceptor agonist detomidine by the α2-antagonist atipamezole was studied. Nine horses were given detomidine 20 μg/kg iv. On a separate occasion they were given atipamezole 100 μg/kg iv 15 mins after the detomidine injection. Blood gas tensions were measured and clinical signs of sedation were also observed.

Bradycardia and the frequency of heart blocks induced by detomidine were reduced after atipamezole and blood pressure decreased. These reversal effects of atipamezole were of short duration (a few minutes) at the dose level tested. Two of the nine horses exhibited premature depolarisations after administration of detomidine, but not after atipamezole injection.

PaO2 decreased and PaCO2 increased slightly after detomidine injection, but the arterial pH was within reference values or slightly elevated. Administration of atipamezole did not alter these values. Base excess rose after detomidine, and it decreased more quickly towards the baseline level, when the horses were given detomidine alone. No clinical adverse effects were seen from the administration of atipamezole.

Atipamezole may be beneficial, if detomidine-induced bradycardia needs to be reversed in horses.