• anaesthesia;
  • horse;
  • isoflurane;
  • recovery;
  • sevoflurane


Objective  To compare recovery times and quality following maintenance of anaesthesia with sevoflurane or isoflurane after a standard intravenous induction technique in horses undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Study design  Prospective, randomised, blinded clinical study.

Animals  One hundred ASA I/II horses undergoing MRI.

Materials and methods  Pre-anaesthetic medication with intravenous acepromazine and romifidine was followed by induction of anaesthesia with diazepam and ketamine. The animals were randomised into two groups to receive either sevoflurane or isoflurane in oxygen. Horses were subjectively scored (0–5) for temperament before sedation, for quality of sedation, induction and maintenance and anaesthetic depth on entering the recovery area. Recoveries were videotaped and scored by an observer, unaware of the treatment, using two scoring systems. Times to the first movement, head lift, sternal recumbency and standing were recorded along with the number of attempts to achieve sternal and standing positions. Variables were compared using a Student t-test or Mann–Whitney U-test (p < 0.05), while the correlation between subjective recovery score and other relevant variables was tested calculating the Spearman Rank correlation coefficient and linear regression modelling performed when significant.

Results  Seventy-seven horses entered the final analysis, 38 received isoflurane and 39 sevoflurane. Body mass, age and duration of anaesthesia were similar for both groups. There were no differences in recovery times, scoring or number of attempts to achieve sternal recumbency and standing between groups. Weak, but significant, correlations were found between the subjective recovery score for the pooled data from both groups and both temperament and time in sternal recumbency.

Conclusions  No differences in recovery times or quality were detected following isoflurane or sevoflurane anaesthesia after intravenous induction.

Clinical relevance  Sevoflurane affords no obvious advantage in recovery over isoflurane following a standard intravenous induction technique in horses not undergoing surgery.