ter Horst, E. N., Krijnen, P. A. J., Flecknell, P. et al. 2018. Sufentanil–medetomidine anaesthesia compared with fentanyl/fluanisone–midazolam is associated with fewer ventricular arrhythmias and death during experimental myocardial infarction in rats and limits infarct size following reperfusion. Laboratory Animals 52(3), 271-279.

To improve infarct healing following myocardial infarction in humans, therapeutic interventions can be applied during the inflammatory response. Animal models are widely used to study this process. However, induction of MI in rodents is associated with high mortality due to ventricular fibrillation (VF) during coronary artery ligation. The anaesthetic agent used during the procedure appears to influence the frequency of this complication. In this retrospective study, the effect on ventricular arrhythmia incidence during ligation and infarct size following in vivo reperfusion of two anaesthetic regimens, sufentanil–medetomidine (SM) and fentanyl/fluanisone–midazolam (FFM) was evaluated in rats. Anaesthetics were administered subcutaneously using fentanyl/fluanisone (0.5 mL/kg) with midazolam (5 mg/kg) (FFM group, n = 48) or sufentanil (0.05 mg/kg) with medetomidine (0.15 mg/kg) (SM group, n = 47). The coronary artery was ligated for 40 min to induce MI. Heart rate and ventricular arrhythmias were recorded during ligation, and infarct size was measured via histochemistry after three days of reperfusion. In the SM group, heart rate and VF incidence were lower throughout the experiment compared with the FFM group (6% versus 30%) (P < 0.01). Fatal VF did not occur in the SM group whereas this occurred in 25% of the animals in the FFM group. Additionally, after three days of reperfusion, the infarcted area following SM anaesthesia was less than half as large as that following FFM anaesthesia (8.5 ± 6.4% versus 20.7 ± 5.6%) (P < 0.01). Therefore, to minimize the possibility of complications related to VF and acute death arising during ligation, SM anaesthesia is recommended for experimental MI in rats.

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