A recent prospective, randomised and blinded multicentre study has revealed that the use of the opioid buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Vetergesic®, before equine elective general anaesthesia and surgery resulted in better post-operative analgesia than butorphanol. This occurred without causing further physiological disruption than is normally expected of general anaesthesia in horses.
The study, conducted by Dr Polly Taylor VetMB MA PhD DVA DipECVAA MRCA MRCVS, an RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Anaesthesia, compared the degree of post-operative pain and physiological variables in horses following premedication with either buprenorphine or butorphanol in a general clinical setting. The study included 89 healthy adult horses from six UK equine veterinary clinics admitted for routine elective surgical procedures.
Butorphanol is often used in equine procedures due to familiarity and its undoubted value for enhancing alpha2-induced sedation. However, it is probably the least effective opioid as an analgesic. There is also a common perception that butorphanol has less impact on locomotor stimulation and depression of intestinal motility than other opioids. This is likely to have contributed to the almost exclusive use of NSAIDs to manage pain in the post-operative period.
The recent study helps to clarify any misconceptions, revealing that horses experienced less postoperative pain after buprenorphine than with butorphanol premedication. Buprenorphine did not cause any more undesirable side effects than butorphanol.
Ceva Animal Health offers equine vets the licensed analgesics Vetergesic and Meloxidyl® as well as Equidronate® for lameness associated with bone spavin. ConfidenceEQ® (a pheromone) is available to help reduce stress in challenging situations.
To view the full study, visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/evj.12442/abstract.
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