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Objective— To characterize the behavior of horses recovering in the Anderson Sling Suspension System after 4 hours of desflurane anesthesia and postdesflurane intravenous (IV) administration of propofol and xylazine.

Study Design— Experimental study.

Animals— Healthy horses (n=6), mean±SEM age 12.3±1.8 years; mean weight 556±27 kg.

Methods— Each horse was anesthetized with xylazine, diazepam, and ketamine IV and anesthesia was maintained with desflurane in O2. At the end of 4 hours of desflurane, each horse was positioned in the sling suspension system and administered propofol–xylazine IV. Recovery events were quantitatively and qualitatively assessed. Venous blood was obtained before and after anesthesia for biochemical and propofol analyses.

Results— Anesthetic induction and maintenance were without incident. Apnea commonly accompanied propofol administration. All horses had consistent recovery behavior characterized by a smooth, careful, atraumatic return to a standing posture.

Conclusions— Results of this study support careful, selective clinical use of desflurane, propofol–xylazine, and the Anderson Sling Suspension System to atraumatically transition horses with high anesthetic recovery risk to a wakeful standing posture.

Clinical Relevance— Technique choices to facilitate individualized, atraumatic recovery of horses from general anesthesia are desirable. Use of IV propofol and xylazine to transition horses from desflurane anesthesia during sling recovery to standing posture may facilitate improved recovery management of high-injury risk equine patients requiring general anesthesia.