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  • Author or Editor: Veronica L. Monroe x
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Objective—To determine an infusion rate of butorphanol tartrate in horses that would maintain therapeutic plasma drug concentrations while minimizing development of adverse behavioral and gastrointestinal tract effects.

Animals—10 healthy adult horses.

Procedure—Plasma butorphanol concentrations were determined by use of high-performance liquid chromatography following administration of butorphanol by single IV injection (0.1 to 0.13 mg/kg of body weight) or continuous IV infusion (loading dose, 17.8 µg/kg; infusion dosage, 23.7 µg/kg/h for 24 hours). Pharmacokinetic variables were calculated, and changes in physical examination data, gastrointestinal tract transit time, and behavior were determined over time.

Results—A single IV injection of butorphanol was associated with adverse behavioral and gastrointestinal tract effects including ataxia, decreased borborygmi, and decreased defecation. Elimination half-life of butorphanol was brief (44.37 minutes). Adverse gastrointestinal tract effects were less apparent during continuous 24-hour infusion of butorphanol at a dosage that resulted in a mean plasma concentration of 29 ng/ml, compared with effects after a single IV injection. No adverse behavioral effects were observed during or after continuous infusion.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Continuous IV infusion of butorphanol for 24 hours maintained plasma butorphanol concentrations within a range associated with analgesia. Adverse behavioral and gastrointestinal tract effects were minimized during infusion, compared with a single injection of butorphanol. Continuous infusion of butorphanol may be a useful treatment to induce analgesia in horses. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:183–189)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research