Changes in cortisol concentration in response to stress and postoperative pain in client-owned cats and correlation with objective clinical variables

Julie D. Smith From the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30502.

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Sheila W. Allen From the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30502.

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Jane E. Quandt From the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30502.

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Abstract

Objective

To identify clinical variables that indicate postoperative pain in cats after ovariohysterectomy in a veterinary hospital setting.

Animals

40 cats.

Procedure

Cats were anesthetized and ovariohysterectomized by senior veterinary students. Butorphanol (0.1 mg/kg [n = 20] or 0.3 mg/kg [20] of body weight) was administered IM after surgery. Blood samples were obtained before, during, and after the anesthestic period for measurements of PCV and blood glucose and cortisol concentrations. Clinical variables measured included heart rate, systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, and rectal temperature. Data for these variables were compared with changes in cortisol concentrations and with similar data—which was used as historical control data— obtained from 20 cats in another study (10 that had been ovariohysterectomized but had not received butorphanol and 10 that had only been anesthetized).

Results

Surgical durations were longer in this study, and cats had higher cortisol concentrations, compared with historical control cats. Objective clinical variables did not consistently correlate with changes in cortisol concentration.

Conclusions

Cortisol concentration increased in response to surgical stress and pain. This response was greater in cats in which duration of surgery was longer.

Clinical Relevance

The objective clinical variables evaluated in this study were not consistent indicators of pain in an uncontrolled, clinical situation. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:432-436)

Abstract

Objective

To identify clinical variables that indicate postoperative pain in cats after ovariohysterectomy in a veterinary hospital setting.

Animals

40 cats.

Procedure

Cats were anesthetized and ovariohysterectomized by senior veterinary students. Butorphanol (0.1 mg/kg [n = 20] or 0.3 mg/kg [20] of body weight) was administered IM after surgery. Blood samples were obtained before, during, and after the anesthestic period for measurements of PCV and blood glucose and cortisol concentrations. Clinical variables measured included heart rate, systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, and rectal temperature. Data for these variables were compared with changes in cortisol concentrations and with similar data—which was used as historical control data— obtained from 20 cats in another study (10 that had been ovariohysterectomized but had not received butorphanol and 10 that had only been anesthetized).

Results

Surgical durations were longer in this study, and cats had higher cortisol concentrations, compared with historical control cats. Objective clinical variables did not consistently correlate with changes in cortisol concentration.

Conclusions

Cortisol concentration increased in response to surgical stress and pain. This response was greater in cats in which duration of surgery was longer.

Clinical Relevance

The objective clinical variables evaluated in this study were not consistent indicators of pain in an uncontrolled, clinical situation. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:432-436)

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