To compare alfaxalone as continuous intravenous (IV) infusion with intermittent IV injections for maintenance of anaesthesia in ponies undergoing castration.
Prospective, randomized, 'blinded' clinical study.
A group of 33 entire male Welsh ponies undergoing field castration.
After preanaesthetic medication with IV detomidine (10 μg kg(-1)) and butorphanol (0.05 mg kg(-1)), anaesthesia was induced with IV diazepam (0.05 mg kg(-1)) followed by alfaxalone (1 mg kg(-1)). After random allocation, anaesthesia was maintained with either IV alfaxalone 2 mg kg(-1) hour(-1) (group A; n = 16) or saline administered at equal volume (group S; n = 17). When necessary, additional alfaxalone (0.2 mg kg(-1)) was administered IV. Ponies were breathing room air. Using simple descriptive scales, surgical conditions and anaesthesia recovery were scored. Total amount of alfaxalone, ponies requiring additional alfaxalone and time to administration, time from induction to end of infusion and end of infusion to standing were noted. Indirect arterial blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rates, end-expiratory carbon dioxide partial pressure and arterial haemoglobin oxygen saturation were recorded every 5 minutes. Data were analysed using Student t, Mann-Whitney U and chi-square tests, where appropriate (p < 0.05).
Total amount of alfaxalone administered after induction of anaesthesia (0.75 ± 0.27 versus 0.17 ± 0.23 mg kg(-1); p < 0.0001) and time to standing (14.8 ± 4 versus 11.6 ± 4 minutes; p = 0.044) were higher in group A compared to group S. Ponies requiring additional alfaxalone boluses [four (group A) versus seven (group S)] and other measured variables were similar between groups; five ponies required oxygen supplementation [three (group A) versus two (group S)].
Conclusion and clinical relevance:
Continuous IV infusion and intermittent administration of alfaxalone provided similar anaesthesia quality and surgical conditions in ponies undergoing field castration. Less alfaxalone is required when used intermittently.