• Behaviorl;
  • Colicl;
  • Cortisoll;
  • Pain managementl;
  • Stress

A randomized, controlled, blinded clinical trial was performed to determine whether butorphanol administered by continuous rate infusion (CRI) for 24 hours after abdominal surgery would decrease pain and surgical stress responses and improve recovery in horses. Thirty-one horses undergoing exploratory celiotomy for abdominal pain were randomly assigned to receive butorphanol CRI (13 |xg/kg/h for 24 hours after surgery; treatment) or isotonic saline (control). All horses received flunixin meglumine (1.1 mg/kg IV q12h). There were no significant differences between treatment and control horses in preoperative or operative variables. Treatment horses had significantly lower plasma cortisol concentration compared with control horses at 2, 8, 12, 24, 36, and 48 hours after surgery. Mean weight loss while hospitalized was significantly less for treatment horses than control horses, whether expressed as total decrease in body weight (13.9 ± 3.4 and 27.9 ± 4.5 kg, respectively) or as a percentage decrease in body weight (2.6 ± 0.7 and 6.3 ± 1.1%, respectively). Treatment horses were significantly delayed in time to first passage of feces (median times of 15 and 4 hours, respectively). Treatment horses had significantly improved behavior scores during the first 24 hours after surgery, consistent with the conclusion that they experienced less pain during that time. Butorphanol CRI during the immediate postoperative period significantly decreased plasma cortisol concentrations and improved recovery characteristics in horses undergoing abdominal surgery.