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  • Author or Editor: Massimo Leandri x
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Objective—To investigate effects of isoflurane at approximately the minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) on the nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) of the forelimb of ponies as a method for quantifying anesthetic potency.

Animals—7 healthy adult Shetland ponies.

Procedure—Individual MAC (iMAC) for isoflurane was determined for each pony. Then, effects of isoflurane administered at 0.85, 0.95, and 1.05 iMAC on the NWR were assessed. At each concentration, the NWR threshold was defined electromyographically for the common digital extensor and deltoid muscles by stimulating the digital nerve; additional electrical stimulations (3, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 mA) were delivered, and the evoked activity was recorded and analyzed. After the end of anesthesia, the NWR threshold was assessed in standing ponies.

Results—Mean ± SD MAC of isoflurane was 1.0 ± 0.2%. The NWR thresholds for both muscles increased significantly in a concentration-dependent manner during anesthesia, whereas they decreased in awake ponies. Significantly higher thresholds were found for the deltoid muscle, compared with thresholds for the common digital extensor muscle, in anesthetized ponies. At each iMAC tested, amplitudes of the reflex responses from both muscles increased as stimulus intensities increased from 3 to 40 mA. A concentration-dependent depression of evoked reflexes with reduction in slopes of the stimulus-response functions was detected.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Anesthetic-induced changes in sensory-motor processing in ponies anesthetized with isoflurane at concentrations of approximately 1.0 MAC can be detected by assessment of NWR. This method will permit comparison of effects of inhaled anesthetics or anesthetic combinations on spinal processing in equids.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objectives—To evoke and measure the nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) by use of electromyographic recordings and to score the behavioral nociceptive responses to electrical pulses in standing nonsedated horses.

Animals—10 adult horses.

Procedure—The lateral palmar digital nerve of the forelimb was transcutaneously stimulated, and surface electromyographic responses were recorded from the ulnaris lateralis, extensor carpi radialis, and common digital extensor muscles. Stimuli consisted of a 25-millisecond train of 5 constant-current pulses delivered by a computer-controlled stimulator. The 80- to 250-milliseconds poststimulation interval was analyzed to detect the NWR. The current intensity was increased in steps of 0.5 mA until the NWR threshold intensity (It) was reached. The stimulus at It was repeated twice. Latency and amplitude of the NWR, together with the behavioral reaction of horses, were analyzed. The latter was scored according to a scale from 0 (no reaction) to 5 (vigorous reaction). Finally, 3 suprathreshold stimuli at 1.2 × It were analyzed.

Results—The median It to elicit NWR was 2.5 mA. Median onset latency of the NWR was 96.0 milliseconds at It and 89.6 milliseconds for suprathreshold stimuli. The amplitude of the reflexes was higher for suprathreshold stimulations, and behavioral reactions were slightly stronger when stimulus intensity increased.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of our study indicate that it is possible to record NWR in conscious standing horses, to define a reflex threshold, and to measure reflexes in response to increasing stimulus intensity. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:1551–1556)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research