Objective—To determine whether rocuronium, a
reversible neuromuscular blocking agent, would provide
safe, short-term immobilization to facilitate endotracheal
intubation in turtles.
Animals—30 healthy adult Gulf Coast box turtles.
Procedure—Turtles were given rocuronium, and
responses were recorded every 3 minutes. Times
to onset of effects, intubation, and recovery were
recorded and analyzed for associations with dose
and patient characteristics to determine an optimal
dose range. Neostigmine and glycopyrrolate were
given to augment recovery from neuromuscular
Results—Rocuronium administered at a dose of
0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg (0.11 to 0.23 mg/lb), IM, permitted
intubation; lower doses were not effective.
Mean ± SD time to loss of the palpebral reflex was
6.4 ± 4.0 minutes, and mean time to intubation was
9.2 ± 6.4 minutes. Mean time to return of the palpebral
reflex was 44 ± 13.2 minutes, and mean time to
walking was 55 ± 16.6 minutes. Time to onset of
effects was not associated with dose, but recovery
times were prolonged with higher doses of rocuronium.
Cardiac arrhythmias were observed in 13
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Administration
of rocuronium at a dose of 0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg is
a safe and effective adjunct to general anesthesia in
Gulf Coast box turtles. Because rocuronium does
not provide any analgesic or sedative effects, the
duration of neuromuscular blockade without anesthesia
should be minimized to avoid undue distress.
(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:1111–1115)