To view this site you must be a
veterinarian surgeon or nurse.
Are you a Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse?

No

Buprenorphine: it’s not all static in rabbits

Influence of a single dose of buprenorphine on rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) gastrointestinal motility.
Deflers H et al (2018). Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia 45 510-519  

What did this study find?

Buprenorphine, a partial agonist opioid, is not licenced for administration to rabbits but it is commonly used in this species at doses ranging from 20 - 100µg/kg.1 In this study there was no significant difference between time to presence of faeces in the pelvic area with or without high dose buprenorphine administration (100µg/kg IM). Thus, a single dose of buprenorphine does not appear to slow rabbit intestinal transit time. 

Introduction

In rabbits the use opioids have often been restricted due to the potential for gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, including ileus.  To date there have been few significant studies specifically examining the gastrointestinal side effects of buprenorphine in this species.  This study hypothesized that buprenorphine would slow GI transit time.  Additionally, no known studies have been published assessing the use of non-invasive techniques to determine rabbit gastrointestinal transit time.

The aim of this study was therefore two-fold:  

  1. To establish a novel and non-invasive imaging protocol for the assessment of rabbit digestive transit
  2. To determine the effects of a single, high dose of buprenorphine on intestinal transit time and gut motility in healthy young male rabbits. 

Study design

Fifteen 3 month old, specific pathogen-free, male New Zealand White rabbits weighing 2.68 ± 0.28 kg were acclimatised in groups of 5 for 7 days.  They had ad libitum access to hay, water and commercial rabbit feed and were handled regularly.

Radiographic and ultrasound examinations were performed twice: During week 1 (no treatment) and again during week 2 following a single dose of 100µg/kg intramuscular buprenorphine.  Imaging was performed at 0, 15, 30 and 6 minutes, then 3, 6, 12 and 24 hours in both the no treatment and treatment groups, with observations starting 5 minutes after buprenorphine administration in the treatment group.  All imaging examinations were completed by the same experienced radiologist who was blinded to the treatment group.  All animals received no treatment and buprenorphine.

Radiographic examinations were performed following a barium meal prepared with standard food concentrate, barium and water.  The aim of mixing the barium with food was to maintain gastrointestinal activity as close to normal as possible. Observations of the stomach and caecum were made and a barium retention score of 0 (no barium) to 3 (large amount of barium) assigned.  Transit time was estimated based on the apparition time of faeces in the pelvic area.

During ultrasound examination pyloric and duodenal contractions were counted during a 2 minute period for each ultrasound series. A contraction was defined as a reduction of the lumen diameter of at least 50%.

Ultrasonography and radiography were chosen to minimise stress and contrast strongly with the traditional, more invasive, methods used to study digestive transit in the rabbit.  

Results

In this study, buprenorphine administration, at a dose of 100µg/kg intramuscularly, decreased the barium retention score in the stomach but had no effect on the barium retention score in the caecum. Buprenorphine had no effect on the time for faeces to appear in the pelvic area when compared to untreated rabbits.

Duodenal contractions occurred in groups of about 12, and at a higher rate than the distinct, isolated, pyloric contractions.  These observations were similar in both the treated and untreated groups. There was an increase in the rate of pyloric and duodenal contractions following buprenorphine administration, although there did appear to be fewer dynamic pyloric contractions in the treatment group (subjective data). 

No rabbit struggled during the study, and all animals ate and drank normally throughout. 

Why is this important?

Buprenorphine is a partial agonist opioid frequently administered for mild to moderate pain.  Although it is not licenced for rabbits, it is commonly used in general practice at doses ranging from 20 - 100µg/kg.1 However, Veterinary Practitioners treating rabbits often finds themselves in a dilemma: Pain can play a significant role in the establishment of ileus in the rabbit; but opioid analgesics are commonly restricted due to fear of drug itself inducing ileus.  In a non-invasive manner, this rabbit study examined the gastrointestinal effects of a high, intramuscular, dose of buprenorphine.

The results demonstrated there was no significant difference between time to presence of faeces in the pelvic area with and without buprenorphine administration. Thus, a single high dose of buprenorphine (100µg/kg) appears to have no adverse effect on gastrointestinal motility in healthy rabbits.  

Article by
Dr. Karen Heskin
BVSc CertSAO MRCVS

Veterinary Technical Manager, Jurox UK

Originally published: Thursday, 13th September 2018

References

  1. Fiorello CV & Divers SJ (2013). Rabbits. Exotics Animal Formulary (4th edition). Elsevier.  517-559

Keep reading... More news items that may interest you.

Alfaxan for the maintenance of anaesthesia: Peer reviewed clinical papers.

In this article we have identified the key clinical peer reviewed papers to support the use of Alfaxan for maintenance of Anaesthesia in Cats and Dogs.

Read On...

ISOFLURANE OUT OF STOCK: TIVA or not to TIVA?

In this article the Jurox UK Technical Team discuss the use of intravenous agents to maintain anaesthesia in the dog and cat.

Read On...

Benzodiazepines - can they help reduce anaesthesia related side effects?

In part 4 of this series on premedicant agents we examine the pros and cons of benzodiazepines.

Read On...

Paper summary: Effect of benzodiazepines on the dose of alfaxalone needed for endotracheal intubation in healthy dogs

This paper examined whether a benzodiazepine, administered as a co-induction agent with alfaxalone, improved endotracheal intubation, and reduced the dose of alfaxalone, in the dog

Read On...

Putting methadone in its place in your pain management.

In this article we examine why methadone could be considered the analgesic of choice for many of our patients and understand its importance in modern veterinary medicine. The article includes a link to a downloadable summary sheet.

Read On...

Food for Thought: Pre-anaesthetic Fasting

In this article Karen examines why we fast our canine and feline patients prior to anaesthesia and what the current recommendations are. Karen also investigates why rabbits are different and should not be starved before anaesthesia.

Read On...

​Purr-fecting Pain Management

In this article summary we examine which of the two opioids, buprenorphine or butorphanol, provides the most appropriate analgesia following ovariohysterectomy in the cat.

Read On...

Perspectives on Premeds - Phenothiazines: from Mental Health to Premedication

In this article from the Perspectives on Premeds series, Karen takes us through the properties and uses of phenothiazines in modern veterinary practice.

Read On...

Methadone with Acepromazine - when is enough, enough?

This study looks at the effects of three methadone doses combined with acepromazine on sedation and some cardiopulmonary variables in dogs.

Read On...

AceSedate®, Our New Acepromazine, Available Now.

We have extended our anaesthesia and analgesia portfolio with the launch of AceSedate®. Containing the tried and trusted, long-acting sedative agent acepromazine as its active ingredient, AceSedate can be used for the premedication, sedation and tranquilisation of cats and dogs.

Read On...

Time: is 30 minutes long enough?

This recent study examined whether the application of EMLA cream, for 30 or 60 minutes, would be a useful tool to improve patient compliance prior to intravenous cannula placement in the veterinary clinical practice setting.

Read On...

Caesarean Section Survival Guide. Part 2: Anaesthetic Protocol Selection & Peri-operative Considerations.

In this second instalment of the 2-part article, we explore premedication, induction, maintenance & monitoring, recovery and analgesia for the Caesarean section patient.

Read On...

Caesarean Section Survival Guide. Part 1: Physiology & Pre-anaesthetic Considerations.

In the first instalment of this 2-part review Karen examines the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy and how those adjustments can affect the selection of anaesthetic protocols for the increasingly common Caesarean section.

Read On...

No leeway for the spay: A comparison between methadone and buprenorphine for perioperative analgesia in dogs undergoing ovariohysterectomy.

This recent paper compares post-operative pain scores and requirement for rescue analgesia following premedication with methadone or buprenorphine, in combination with acepromazine or medetomidine, in 80 bitches undergoing ovariohysterectomy.

Read On...

Cardiac arrest - the human factor

Cardiac arrest in dogs and cats is, thankfully, relatively rare. However, when it does happen it can have devastating consequences for the animal, owner and the veterinary team. This study examined the common causalities leading up to a cardiac arrest with the aim of changing protocols to improve outcomes.

Read On...

Are you Using Safety Checklists in your Practice?

In this article, Carl focuses on the benefits of introducing a safety checklist in practice to reduce patient morbidity, mortality and to improve communication between members of the veterinary team. The article contains links to the AVA safety checklist as well as a link to a customisable list that you can adapt to your practice needs. 

Read On...

The Big Chill - Temperature Management in Sedated and Anaesthetised Patients

The effects of hypothermia are very far reaching throughout the peri-anaesthetic process. In this article, James takes us through the interesting mechanisms of body cooling and warming, the clinical relevance of hypothermia and what we can do to prevent it.

Read On...

Keeping the Finger on the Pulse -  Nuances in CV Monitoring

All patients are exposed to the risks associated with general anaesthesia. Continuously monitoring anaesthetised patients maximises patients safety and wellbeing. In this article, Dan takes us through the common monitoring techniques that provide information about the cardiovascular status of your patient. 

Read On...

Effect of Maropitant on Isoflurane Requirements & Postoperative Nausea & Vomiting

Despite being widely recognized in humans, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), and the role of maropitant in reducing inhalational anaesthetic requirements have been poorly documented in dogs. This recent study evaluates PONV and isoflurane requirements after maropitant administration during routine ovariectomy in bitches.

Read On...

New! Alfaxan® Multidose Now Available

We are happy to announce we have enhanced our anaesthesia and analgesia portfolio with the introduction of Alfaxan®Multidose for dogs, cats and pet rabbits.

Read On...

Sevoflurane requirement in dogs premedicated with medetomidine and butorphanol

Little information is available about the effect that different doses of medetomidine and butorphanol may have when using sevoflurane for maintenance of anaesthesia in dogs. This recent study evaluates heart rate and median sevoflurane concentration required at different dose rates.

Read On...

Capnography II - What happened to the elephants? A summary of abnormal traces

In this second article of the capnography series, James provides a guide to a few of the most common traces that you will encounter during surgery. Scroll to the end of the article to download a printable capnography cheatsheet. 

Read On...

Pain, what a Pain! (Part 2) – Practical Tips On How To Perform Dental Nerve Blocks In Companion Animal Practice

In this second article of the Pain, what a Pain! series, Dan takes us through the LRA techniques associated with dental and oral surgery. In this article, you will find practical tips and pictures on common dental nerve blocks as well as safety concerns to consider.

Read On...

​Peri-anaesthetic mortality and nonfatal gastrointestinal complications in pet rabbits

This recent retrospective study looks at the cases of 185 pet rabbits admitted for sedation or general anaesthetic and evaluates the incidence and risk factors contributing to peri-anaesthetic mortality and gastrointestinal complications.

Read On...

Pain, what a Pain! How Locoregional Anaesthesia can Improve the Outcome and Welfare of Veterinary Patients (Part 1)

In this first article out of a series of two, Dan takes us through an introduction and practical tips for appropriate local anaesthesia delivery. Find out why these anaesthesia techniques, that are well recognised in human medicine, have seen an increase in popularity in veterinary medicine over the recent years

Read On...

Perspectives on Premeds – Opioids

Perspectives on Premeds is a series of articles touching on different pharmacological, physiological and clinical aspects of pre-anaesthetic medication. This second article aims to provide a refresher on opioids.

Read On...

Effects of Dexmedetomidine with Different Opioid Combinations in Dogs

Read the highlights of a recently published research paper that evaluates cardiorespiratory, sedative and antinociceptive effects of dexmedetomidine alone and in combination with morphine, methadone, meperidine, butorphanol, nalbuphine and tramadol. 

Read On...

Preoxygenation Study Highlights

This study evaluates the effectiveness of two methods of preoxygenation in healthy yet sedated dogs and the impact of these methods on time taken to reach a predetermined haemoglobin desaturation point (haemoglobin saturation (SpO2) of 90%) during an experimentally induced period of apnoea.

Read On...

Capnography – Not Just a Load of Hot Air

Capnography is the measurement of inhaled and exhaled carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. The graphical illustration of CO2 within respired gases versus times is known as the capnogram.

Read On...

Perspectives on Premeds – Alpha-2 Agonists

Perspectives on Premeds is a series of articles touching on different pharmacological, physiological and clinical aspects of pre-anaesthetic medication. This first article aims to provide a refresher on α2 agonists.

Read On...

We are ‘injecting’ a bit of fun into BSAVA Congress!

We will be ‘injecting’ a bit of fun into BSAVA Congress on our stand (stand 702).

Read On...

Alfaxan - now licensed for use in pet rabbits

Jurox Animal Health is delighted to announce that Alfaxan is now licensed for cats, dogs and pet rabbits. This is an exciting advance and could change the way rabbits are anaesthetised in the U.K.

Read On...

Best Practice Rabbit Anaesthesia Roadshows

Jurox Announces eight country wide events on Best Practice Rabbit Anaesthesia

Read On...

Considerations in Rabbit Anaesthesia at the 2017 London Vet Show

Jurox to host talks on Considerations in Rabbit Anaesthesia at the 2017 London Vet Show.

Read On...

Vets needing more support for anaesthesia

Jurox research reveals that veterinary professionals have questions about their anaesthetic protocols

Read On...
Repeatable. Reliable. Relax.