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Influence of age and body mass on the response of adolescent male pigs to anaesthesia
  1. F. C. Reed, BVSc, MSc. DipECVAA, MRCVS1,
  2. D. J. Shaw, BSc, PhD1,
  3. K. A. McLean, BSc, MSc2 and
  4. R. E. Clutton, BVSc, DVA, DipECVAA, MRCVS1
  1. 1Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies & The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Roslin EH25 9RG, UK
  2. 2Animal and Veterinary Science Group, Scotland's Rural College, King's Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: fran.downing{at}


Age and body mass affect a human's response to drugs, including anaesthetics. In pigs, such effects, if they occur, are likely to be pronounced: commercial breeds have been selected for rapid growth, meaning rapid body composition and mass change with age. Thirty-six male pigs were anaesthetised for CT scanning on three occasions (S1–3) when aged 105, 137 and 166 days and when mean (±sd) masses were 57.2±4.4, 88.4±6.2 and 114.7±7.6 kg, respectively. Medetomidine (5 μg/kg), azaperone (1 mg/kg), ketamine (5 mg/kg) and midazolam (0.25 mg/kg) were combined and injected intramuscularly. The times when pigs became recumbent (R1) and remained so (RP) were recorded. If venous cannulation was not possible five minutes after recumbency, 2–3 per cent isoflurane in a 1:2 O2/N2O mixture was delivered by mask until cannulation was possible and then discontinued. If anaesthetic depth was inadequate for CT scanning, a full dose (midazolam 0.25 mg/kg, ketamine 2 mg/kg) or half dose of induction agents was administered intravenously. During recovery from anaesthesia, the times at first movement (M1), first standing attempt (S1) and successful sustained standing (SP) were recorded. The relationship between mass and time (minutes) from injection to each end point was assessed using regression analysis and linear mixed-effect models (LMEM); LMEM were used to assess isoflurane and intravenous anaesthetic effects. Analysis using LMEM showed no significant relationships between mass and the times from injection to the five end points. Isoflurane reduced the time to M1, S1 and SP (P<0.037); intravenous agents had no effect on S1 or SP (P>0.585) but increased the time from injection to M1 (P<0.001). In conclusion, age and mass do not influence the response of commercially bred pigs to the intravenous anaesthetic combination described.

  • Anaesthesia
  • Pigs
  • Experimental animals
  • Clinical practice
  • Ageing

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