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Open Access Cardiovascular Pathology Possibly Associated with Ketamine/Xylazine Anesthesia in Dutch Belted Rabbits

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Background and Purpose: After myocardial necrosis and fibrosis was observed in five rabbits which had been anesthetized a variable number of times, the potential relationship of these lesions and anesthesia was evaluated in 35 other rabbits.

Methods: Anesthesia was induced by intramuscular administration of ketamine and xylazine followed by infusion of lactated Ringer's solution also containing ketamine and xylazine. Group A rabbits (n = 9) were subjected to multiple anesthesias and were evaluated by echocardiography, thoracic radiography, electrocardiography, determination of serum coronavirus titer, vitamin E concentration, and complete necropsy. Prior to a single acute procedure followed by necropsy, group B rabbits (n = 11) were evaluated by echocardiography only. Group C rabbits (n = 10) had never been anesthetized and were necropsied after euthanasia. Group D rabbits (n = 5) had intermediate anesthesia exposure history and were evaluated by echocardiography only. Myocardial fibrosis was scored semi-quantitatively on a scale of 0 to 4.

Results: Canine coronavirus test results were negative; hypovitaminosis E was evident, and fibrosis scores were significantly increased in group A, compared with group B or group C, rabbits.

Conclusion: Etiologic differentials included α2-agonist-mediated coronary vasoconstriction with associated myocardial hypoperfusion, hypovitaminosis E and free radical injury, and other anesthetic-induced physiologic trespass.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 2: Animal Resources Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 3: Angell Memorial Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Publication date: 1999-04-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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