Tissue injury and anaesthesia during surgery induce a stress response associated with increased glucocorticoid secretion from the adrenal glands. This response alters the normal physiology and may cause postoperative morbidity, as well as affect the results during acute experiments. The aim of the present investigation was to study the effect of surgical severity and analgesic treatment on circulating corticosterone in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Male rats were treated with either lidocaine infiltrated during surgery, buprenorphine (0.05 or 0.1 mg/kg subcutaneously) or saline subcutaneously. Each treatment group was subjected to either arterial catheterisation or arterial catheterisation and laparotomy. A catheter was inserted in the common carotid artery and blood was collected during surgery and during anaesthesia 6 h after surgery. Lidocaine treatment reduced the corticosterone levels compared to saline treatment after catheterisation but not after laparotomy. Buprenorphine treatment reduced the corticosterone levels during the first hour after surgery after both catheterisation and laparotomy. The higher buprenorphine dose led to an earlier and more pronounced reduction, especially after laparotomy. In the present study, the corticosterone response during surgery in laboratory rats is correlated with the severity of the procedure, and buprenorphine reduces the surgical stress response more effectively than lidocaine treatment.
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