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Effects of preoperative administration of butorphanol or meloxicam on physiologic responses to surgery in ball pythons

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  • 1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark
  • | 2 Centre for Zoo and Wild Animal Health, Copenhagen Zoo, Roskildevej 38, DK-2000 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
  • | 3 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
  • | 4 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark

Abstract

Objective—To characterize physiologic responses of ball pythons (Python regius) following a minor surgical procedure and investigate the effects of 2 commonly used analgesics on this response.

Animals—15 healthy ball pythons.

Procedures—Snakes were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 3 treatments: meloxicam (0.3 mg/kg [0.14 mg/lb]; n = 5), butorphanol (5 mg/kg [2.3 mg/lb]; 5), or saline (0.9% NaCl) solution (5) before catheterization of the vertebral artery. Plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood gas values were measured at various times for 72.5 hours after catheterization. The 72.5-hour point was defined as baseline.

Results—Heart rate of ball pythons increased significantly during the first hour following surgery. Mean plasma epinephrine concentration increased slightly at 2.5 hours after surgery, whereas mean plasma cortisol concentration increased beginning at 1.5 hours, reaching a maximum at 6.5 hours. Mean blood pressure increased within the first hour but returned to the baseline value at 2.5 hours after surgery. After 24.5 hours, blood pressure, heart rate, and plasma hormone concentrations remained stable at baseline values. There were no significant differences in values for physiologic variables between snakes that received saline solution and those that received meloxicam or butorphanol.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Measurement of physiologic variables provides a means of assessing postoperative pain in snakes. Meloxicam and butorphanol at the dosages used did not decrease the physiologic stress response and did not appear to provide analgesic effects in ball pythons.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize physiologic responses of ball pythons (Python regius) following a minor surgical procedure and investigate the effects of 2 commonly used analgesics on this response.

Animals—15 healthy ball pythons.

Procedures—Snakes were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 3 treatments: meloxicam (0.3 mg/kg [0.14 mg/lb]; n = 5), butorphanol (5 mg/kg [2.3 mg/lb]; 5), or saline (0.9% NaCl) solution (5) before catheterization of the vertebral artery. Plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood gas values were measured at various times for 72.5 hours after catheterization. The 72.5-hour point was defined as baseline.

Results—Heart rate of ball pythons increased significantly during the first hour following surgery. Mean plasma epinephrine concentration increased slightly at 2.5 hours after surgery, whereas mean plasma cortisol concentration increased beginning at 1.5 hours, reaching a maximum at 6.5 hours. Mean blood pressure increased within the first hour but returned to the baseline value at 2.5 hours after surgery. After 24.5 hours, blood pressure, heart rate, and plasma hormone concentrations remained stable at baseline values. There were no significant differences in values for physiologic variables between snakes that received saline solution and those that received meloxicam or butorphanol.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Measurement of physiologic variables provides a means of assessing postoperative pain in snakes. Meloxicam and butorphanol at the dosages used did not decrease the physiologic stress response and did not appear to provide analgesic effects in ball pythons.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Danish Research Council (Forskningsrådet for Natur og Univers).

Address correspondence to Ms. Olesen.