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To study behavioral and cardiopulmonary characteristics of horses recovering from inhalation anesthesia, 6 nonmedicated horses were anesthetized under laboratory conditions on 3 different days, with either halothane or isoflurane in O2. Anesthesia was maintained at constant dose (1.5 times the minimum alveolar concentration [mac]) of halothane in O2 for 1 hour (H1), halothane in O2 for 3 hours (H3), or isoflurane in O2 for 3 hours (I3). The order of exposure was set up as a pair of Latin squares to account for horse and trial effects. Circulatory (arterial blood pressure and heart rate) and respiratory (frequency, PaCO2 , PaO2 , pHa) variables were monitored during anesthesia and for as long as possible during the recovery period. End-tidal percentage of the inhaled agent was measured every 15 seconds by automated mass spectrometry, then by hand-sampling after horses started moving. Times of recovery events, including movement of the eyelids, ears, head, and limbs, head lift, chewing, swallowing, first sternal posture and stand attempts, and the number of sternal posture and stand attempts, were recorded.

The washout curve or the et ratio (end-tidal percentage of the inhaled agent at time t to end-tidal percentage of the inhaled agent at the time the anesthesia circuit was disconnected from the tracheal tube) plotted against time was similar for H1 and H3. The slower, then faster (compared with halothane groups) washout curve of isoflurane was explainable by changes in respiratory frequency as horses awakened and by lower blood/gas solubility of isoflurane. The respiratory depressant effects of isoflurane were marked and were more progressive than those for halothane at the same 1.5 mac dose. During the first 15 minutes of recovery, respiratory frequency for group-I3 horses increased significantly (P < 0.05), compared with that for the halothane groups. For all groups, arterial blood pressure increased throughout the early recovery period and heart rate remained constant.

Preanesthesia temperament of horses and the inhalation agent used did not influence the time of the early recovery events (movement of eyelids, ears, head, and limbs), except for head lift. For events that occurred at anesthetic end-tidal percentage < 0.20, or when horses were awake, temperament was the only factor that significantly influenced the nature of the recovery (chewing P = 0.04, extubation P = 0.001, first stand attempt P = 0.008, and standing P = 0.005). The quality of the recoveries did not differ significantly among groups (H1, H3, I3) or horses; however 5 of 6 horses recovering from the H1 exposure had ideal recovery. During recovery, the anesthetic end-tidal percentage did not differ significantly among groups. However, when concentrations were compared on the basis of anesthetic potency (ie, mac multiple) a significantly (P < 0.05) lower MAC multiple of isoflurane was measured for the events ear movement, limb movement, head lift, and first attempt to sternal posture, compared with that for horses given halothane, indicating that isoflurane may be a more-potent sedative than halothane in these horses.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research