Costa, R. S., Ciotti-McClallen, M., Tilley, R. et al. 2023. Intramuscular alfaxalone with or without buprenorphine or hydromorphone provides sedation with minimal adverse effects in healthy rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in a randomized blinded controlled trial. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 261(2), 223–228.

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effects of alfaxalone administered IM with or without buprenorphine or hydromorphone in healthy rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). ANIMALS 24 male rabbits undergoing elective orchiectomy between August 21, 2021, and November 6, 2021. PROCEDURES In this controlled clinical trial, rabbits were randomly assigned to receive alfaxalone (4 mg/kg, IM) alone (group A; n = 8) or with buprenorphine (0.03 mg/kg, IM; group BA; 8) or hydromorphone (0.1 mg/kg, IM; group HA; 8). Vital signs and sedation scores were recorded immediately prior to (T0) and 10 minutes after (T1) treatment. Ease of IV catheter placement and pain scores were also evaluated. All rabbits received ketamine (2.5 mg/kg, IV), midazolam (0.13 mg/kg, IV), and meloxicam (0.5 mg/kg, SC) before orchiectomy but after IM treatments. Results were compared across groups with ANOVA or Fisher exact tests and across time with paired t tests. RESULTS Sedation score, median time to recumbency, and ease of catheter placement did not differ among groups. Supraglottic airway device placement was possible for 1 rabbit in group A, 1 in group BA, and 2 in group HA. Mean respiratory rate at T1 versus T0 was significantly decreased for groups BA (63.8 vs 128.6 breaths/min) and HA (66.7 vs 123.2 breaths/min). Mean postoperative pain scores were significantly lower for rabbits in group HA (0.58), compared with those in groups A (2.25) and BA (2.06). CLINICAL RELEVANCE All 3 treatments provided reliable sedation; however, alfaxalone (4 mg/kg, IM) combined with hydromorphone (0.1 mg/kg, IM) may be a better choice for painful procedures.

Animal Type