Reptiles have continued to increase in popularity as pets in the United States, and veterinarians that treat reptiles are faced with situations that require immobilization or anesthesia.1–3 Performing anesthesia in reptiles can be challenging because of anatomic and physiologic differences from mammals, variable responses to anesthetic drugs, and patient size.2–5
Induction of anesthesia with inhalant anesthetics is commonly used in many reptile species.2,3,6 The use of less tissue-soluble anesthetics such as isoflurane, sevoflurane, or desflurane is preferred, as solubility is inversely related to induction and recovery times. Induction of anesthesia with inhaled anesthetics can be prolonged in some reptiles because of breath holding or limited access to the head (chelonians). Induction of anesthesia with inhaled anesthetics is generally easier in lizards and snakes, but these species are capable of prolonged breath holding as well.
Many injectable agents have been used for anesthetic induction in reptiles, with varying results. Most result in prolonged induction and recovery times, with some exceeding 24 hours.2,4–6 Propofol has gained popularity for anesthesia in reptiles because of the rapid induction and recovery and limited toxic effects on organs.6–12 A major disadvantage of propofol is the need for IV administration, which can be challenging in reptile patients.2,3,5 For species in which venous access is difficult to obtain, propofol has been administered intraosseously,6,13 into the coelomic cavity,11 intracardially,7 transdermally,8 and in the supravertebral sinus.12
The purpose of the study reported here was to examine the efficacy and safety of propofol administered by intracardiac injection into hatchling ball pythons (Python regius), to evaluate histologic changes in the heart caused by the intracardiac injection of propofol, and to evaluate induction and recovery times, compared with anesthetic induction with 5% isoflurane, in oxygen administered by direct endotracheal intubation in fully conscious snakes. We hypothesized that administration of propofol via intracardiac injection would provide rapid anesthetic induction and recovery, have minimal adverse effects during anesthesia, and lead to minimal histopathologic lesions in the heart.
Ben Siegel Reptiles, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
PVC Cages, Grand Haven, Mich.
Torbugesic, Fort Dodge, Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Sleepaway, Fort Dodge, Madison, NJ.
Systat, Wilkinson, Evanston, Ill.
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