Objective—To evaluate the analgesic effects of topical administration of bupivacaine, IM administration of butorphanol, and transdermal administration of fentanyl in cats undergoing onychectomy.
Animals—27 healthy adult cats.
Procedure—Cats were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups, and unilateral (left forefoot) onychectomy was performed. Gait analysis was performed before and 1, 2, 3, and 12 days after surgery. All forces were expressed as a percentage of the cat's body weight.
Results—On day 2, peak vertical force (PVF) was significantly decreased in cats treated with bupivacaine, compared with cats treated with butorphanol or fentanyl. The ratio of left forelimb PVF to PVF of the other 3 limbs was significantly lower on day 2 in cats treated with bupivacaine than in cats treated with fentanyl. No significant differences in vertical impulse (VI) were found between groups on any day. Values for PVF, VI, and the PVF ratio increased progressively following surgery. However, for all 3 groups, values were still significantly decreased, compared with baseline values, 12 days after surgery.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that limb function following onychectomy is significantly better in cats treated with fentanyl transdermally or butorphanol IM than in cats treated with bupivacaine topically. Regardless of the analgesic regimen, limb function was still significantly reduced 12 days after surgery, suggesting that long-term analgesic treatment should be considered for cats undergoing onychectomy. Irrigation of the surgical incisions with bupivacaine prior to wound closure cannot be recommended as the sole method for providing postoperative analgesia in cats undergoing onychectomy. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:89–93)