Introduction: The use of alveolar recruitment maneuvers during general anaesthesia of horses is a potentially useful therapeutic option for the ventilatory management. While the routine application of recruitments would benefit from the availability of dedicated large animal ventilators their impact on ventilation and perfusion in the horse is not yet well documented nor completely understood.
Case history: A healthy 533 kg experimental horse underwent general anaesthesia in lateral recumbency. During intermittent positive pressure ventilation a stepwise alveolar recruitment maneuver was performed.
Management: Anaesthesia was induced with ketamine and midazolam and maintained with isoflurane in oxygen using a large animal circle system. Mechanical ventilation was applied in pressure ventilation mode and an alveolar recruitment maneuver performed employing a sequence of ascending and descending positive end expiratory pressures. Next to the standard monitoring, which included spirometry, additionally three non-invasive monitoring techniques were used: electrical impedance tomography (EIT), volumetric capnography and respiratory ultrasonic plethysmography. The functional images continuously delivered by EIT initially showed markedly reduced ventilation in the dependent lung and allowed on-line monitoring of the dynamic changes in the distribution of ventilation during the recruitment maneuver. Furthermore, continuous monitoring of compliance, dead space fraction, tidal volumes and changes in end expiratory lung volume were possible without technical difficulties. FOLLOW: up The horse made an unremarkable recovery.
Conclusion: The novel non-invasive monitoring technologies used in this study provided unprecedented insights into the physiology of lung collapse and recruitment. The synergic information of these techniques holds promise to be useful when developing and evaluating new ventilatory strategies in horses.