Interactions of morphine and isoflurane in horses

Am J Vet Res. 2003 Feb;64(2):166-75. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.2003.64.166.


Objective: To quantitate dose- and time-related magnitudes of interactive effects of morphine (MOR) and isoflurane (ISO) in horses and to characterize pharmacokinetics of MOR in plasma and the ventilatory response to MOR during administration of ISO.

Animals: 6 adult horses.

Procedure: Horses were anesthetized 3 times to determine the minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) of ISO in O2 and then to characterize the change in anesthetic requirement as defined by the alteration in ISO MAC following IV administration of saline (0.9% NaCl) solution and 2 doses of MOR (low dose, 0.25 mg/kg; high dose, 2.0 mg/kg). Arterial blood samples were obtained before and after MOR and analyzed.

Results: Mean +/- SD baseline ISO MAC was 1.43 +/- 0.06%. The ISO MAC did not change with time after administration of saline solution. Effects of MOR on ISO MAC varied. Maximal change in MAC ranged from -20.2 to +28.3% and -18.9 to +56.2% after low and high doses of MOR, respectively. Typical half-life of MOR in plasma was 40 to 60 minutes and related to dose. Mean PaCO2 increased from 70 mm Hg before MOR to 88 to 102 mm Hg for 30 to 240 minutes after the high dose of MOR. Recovery from anesthesia after administration of the high dose of MOR was considered undesirable and dangerous.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Our results do not support routine clinical use of MOR administered IV at dosages of 0.25 or 2.0 mg/kg as an adjuvant to anesthesia in horses administered ISO.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Anesthesia / veterinary
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / pharmacokinetics
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Horses*
  • Isoflurane / administration & dosage
  • Isoflurane / adverse effects
  • Isoflurane / pharmacokinetics*
  • Isoflurane / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / blood
  • Morphine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Morphine / pharmacology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Morphine
  • Isoflurane