Nunamaker, E. A., Goldman, J. L., Adams, C. R. et al. 2018. Evaluation of analgesic efficacy of meloxicam and 2 formulations of buprenorphine after laparotomy in female Sprague-Dawley rats. JAALAS 57(5), 498–507.

Managing postoperative pain in rodents is an important part of any animal care and use program, and identifying an optimal analgesic plan for a surgical procedure is critical to providing for animal welfare. Opioids and NSAID are commonly used in rodents, but few studies have evaluated their efficacy in surgical models. The current study aimed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of clinically relevant doses of buprenorphine (2 formulations) or meloxicam used in combination with ketamine and xylazine anesthesia in a Sprague–Dawley rat ovariohysterectomy surgical model. Rats received either subcutaneous saline once daily for 3 d, low-dose (0.05 mg/kg SC) or high-dose (0.1 mg/kg SC) buprenorphine twice daily for 3 d, a single injection of sustained-release buprenorphine (1.2 mg/kg SC), or low-dose (1 mg/kg SC) or high-dose (2 mg/kg SC) meloxicam once daily for 3 d. Clinical analgesic efficacy was assessed over 8 d according to cageside observation scoring, body weight, and behavioral testing. Ovariohysterectomy was associated with 2 d of postoperative pain, and all 3 buprenorphine dosing strategies and both doses of meloxicam demonstrated varying amounts of analgesia. Given the results of the current study, we recommend 0.05 mg/kg SC buprenorphine at least twice daily or a single dose of 1.2 mg/kg SC of sustained-release buprenorphine for rats undergoing midline laparotomy with ovariohysterectomy. Alternatively, meloxicam at 1 to 2 mg/kg SC once daily could be used for this indication.

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