Objective—To evaluate injection of microcrystalline sodium urate (MSU) for inducing articular pain in green-cheeked conures (Pyrrhura molinae) and the analgesic efficacy of liposome-encapsulated butorphanol tartrate (LEBT) by use of weight load data, behavioral scores, and fecal corticosterone concentration.
Procedures—In a crossover study, conures were randomly assigned to receive LEBT (15 mg/kg) or liposomal vehicle subsequent to experimental induction of arthritis or sham injection. The MSU was injected into 1 tibiotarsal-tarsometatarsal (intertarsal) joint to induce arthritis (time 0). Weight-bearing load and behavioral scores were determined at 0, 2, 6, 26, and 30 hours.
Results—MSU injection into 1 intertarsal joint caused a temporary decrease in weight bearing on the affected limb. Treatment of arthritic conures with LEBT resulted in significantly more weight bearing on the arthritic limb than treatment with vehicle. Administration of vehicle to arthritic conures caused a decrease in activity and feeding behaviors during the induction phase of arthritis, but as the arthritis resolved, there was a significant increase in voluntary activity at 30 hours and feeding behaviors at 26 and 30 hours, compared with results for LEBT treatment of arthritic birds. Treatment with LEBT or vehicle in conures without arthritis resulted in similar measurements for weight bearing and voluntary and motivated behaviors.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Experimental induction of arthritis in conures was a good method for evaluating tonic pain. Weight-bearing load was the most sensitive measure of pain associated with induced arthritis. Pain associated with MSU-induced arthritis was alleviated by administration of LEBT.