Jiron, J. M., Mendieta Calle, J. L., Castillo, E. J. et al. 2019. Comparison of isoflurane, ketamine-dexmedetomidine, and ketamine-xylazine for general anesthesia during oral procedures in rice rats (Oryzomys palustris). JAALAS 58(1), 40-49.

Rice rats (Oryzomys palustris) are an unconventional laboratory species that has been used to study photoperiodicity, periodontitis, and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Interventional procedures that require anesthesia, including oral procedures, are sometimes necessary in preclinical settings. The use of anesthetics including isoflurane and ketamine combined with α2-adrenoreceptor agonists, such as dexmedetomidine and xylazine, is well-established for laboratory rodents. However, their effects have been studied only modestly in rice rats. The aims of this study were to 1) determine the safety and consistency of 3 common anesthetic modalities in rice rats; 2) compare the physiologic and clinical responses to these anesthetics, and 3) verify the effectiveness of the most successful modality by testing it during an oral procedure (tooth extraction). Isoflurane, intraperitoneal ketamine-dexmedetomidine, and intraperitoneal ketamine-xylazine were evaluated by using a crossover design, in which each rat received all of the anesthetics. Compared with ketamine-dexmedetomidine and ketamine-xylazine, isoflurane inhalation through a nose cone produced more rapid induction, entry to a surgical plane of anesthesia, and initial recovery. In addition, isoflurane produced optimal anesthesia throughout the procedure for most rats. Unlike ketamine-dexmedetomidine and ketamine-xylazine, isoflurane did not alter rectal temperature, SpO2, or respiratory rate during the surgical tolerance period, whereas ketamine-dexmedetomidine and ketamine-xylazine decreased rectal temperature during the last stage of anesthesia and induced cardiorespiratory depression. Furthermore, 2 rats experienced negative outcomes warranting euthanasia: one after receiving ketamine-dexmedetomidine, and the other after ketamine-xylazine anesthesia. In conclusion, isoflurane was the most reliable and effective anesthetic in rice rats and maintained a surgical depth of anesthesia for as long as 30 min, thus supporting successful tooth extractions.

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