Digranes, N., Haga, H. A., Nordgreen, J. 2023. High and hyper: Fentanyl induces psychomotor side-effects in healthy pigs. Animals 13(10), 1671.

Analgesic effects of fentanyl have been investigated using behavior. The behavioral effects of fentanyl and possible serotonergic influence are largely unknown. We therefore investigated behavioral effects of fentanyl, with or without the serotonin antagonist ketanserin, in pigs. Fourteen mixed-breed pigs, weighing 17–25 kg were included in a randomised blinded prospective, balanced three-group study. Ten pigs received first 5 and then 10 µg/kg of fentanyl intravenously. Ketanserin at 1 mg/kg or saline was given intravenously as a third injection. Four control pigs received three injections of saline. Behavior was video-recorded. The distance moved was automatically measured by commercially available software, and behaviors manually scored in retrospect. Fentanyl inhibited resting and playing, and induced different repetitive behaviors. The mean (SD) distance moved in the control group and fentanyl group was 21.3 (13.0) and 57.8 (20.8) metres respectively (p < 0.05 for pairwise comparison). A stiff gait pattern was seen after fentanyl injection for median (range) 4.2 (2.8–5.1) minutes per 10 min, which was reduced to 0 (0–4) s after ketanserin administration. Conclusion: fentanyl-induced motor and behavioral effects, and serotonergic transmission may be involved in some of them. The psychomotor side effects of fentanyl could potentially interfere with post-operative pain evaluation in pigs.

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