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. 2002 Mar;33(1):36-44.
doi: 10.1638/1042-7260(2002)033[0036:EOMKAW]2.0.CO;2.

Evaluation of Medetomidine-Ketamine Anesthesia With Atipamezole Reversal in American Alligators (Alligator Mississippiensis)


Evaluation of Medetomidine-Ketamine Anesthesia With Atipamezole Reversal in American Alligators (Alligator Mississippiensis)

Terrell G Heaton-Jones et al. J Zoo Wildl Med. .


Sixteen captive and wild-caught American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), seven juveniles (< or = 1 m total length [TL]; 6.75 +/- 1.02 kg), and nine adults (> or = 2 m TL; 36.65 +/- 38.85 kg), were successfully anesthetized multiple times (n = 33) with an intramuscular (i.m.) medetomidine-ketamine (MK) combination administered in either the triceps or masseter muscle. The juvenile animals required significantly larger doses of medetomidine (x = 220.1 +/- 76.9 microg/kg i.m.) and atipamezole (x = 1,188.5 -/+ 328.1 microg/kg i.m.) compared with the adults (medetomidine, x = 131.1 +/- 19.5 microg/kg i.m.; atipamezole, x = 694.0 +/- 101.0 microg/kg i.m.). Juvenile alligators also required higher (statistically insignificant) doses of ketamine (x = 10.0 +/- 4.9 mg/kg i.m.) compared with the adult animals (x = 7.5 +/- 4.2 mg/kg i.m.). The differences in anesthesia induction times (juveniles, x = 19.6 +/- 8.5 min; adults, x = 26.6 +/- 17.4 min) and recovery times (juveniles, x = 35.4 +/- 22.1 min; adults, x = 37.9 +/- 20.2 min) were also not statistically significant. Anesthesia depth was judged by the loss of the righting, biting, corneal and blink, and front or rear toe-pinch withdrawal reflexes. Recovery in the animals was measured by the return of reflexes, open-mouthed hissing, and attempts to high-walk to the opposite end of the pen. Baseline heart rates (HRs) were significantly higher in the juvenile animals (x = 37 +/- 4 beats/min) compared with the adults (x = 24 +/- 5 bpm). However, RRs (juveniles, x = 8 +/- 2 breaths/min; adults, x = 8 +/- 2 breaths/min) and body temperatures (juveniles, x = 24.1 +/- 1.1 degrees C; adults, x = 25.2 +/- 1.2 degrees C) did not differ between the age groups. In both groups, significant HR decreases were recorded within 30-60 min after MK administration. Cardiac arrhythmias (second degree atrio-ventricular block and premature ventricular contractions) were seen in two animals but were not considered life-threatening. Total anesthesia times ranged from 61-250 min after i.m. injection. Although dosages were significantly different between the age groups, MK and atipamezole provided safe, effective, completely reversible anesthesia in alligators. Drug-dosage differences appear to be related to metabolic differences between the two size-classes, requiring more research into metabolic scaling as a method of calculating anesthetic dosages.

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