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Open Access Susceptibility of Rats to Corneal Lesions After Injectable Anesthesia

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Corneal injury is not a commonly reported side effect after injectable or inhalation anesthesia in rats, but a number of surgery studies at our facility resulted in a high incidence of these injuries. To explore the potential association of various anesthetic protocols with the development of corneal lesions in rats, we retrospectively evaluated clinical records and sections of eyes from 215 male and 187 female Wistar rats used in eight intravenous infusion toxicology studies. None of the studied compounds was associated with eye toxicity. For placement of jugular vein vascular access ports, rats were anesthetized with enflurane, isoflurane, ketamine–xylazine, or Hypnorm–midazolam. Histologically, corneal changes were scored from 0 to 4 in light of degree of mineralization, leukocytic infiltrates, neovascularization, fibrosis, and ulceration. Prestudy (postsurgical) ophthalmic examination findings of corneal opacities were correlated with mineralization of the anterior limiting membrane and corneal ulceration. Corneal lesions were more severe in animals anesthetized with ketamine–xylazine, and minimal changes occurred after anesthesia with either enflurane or isoflurane. The results of further analysis suggest that corneal lesions can be observed within 24 h after injectable anesthetic administration and are not reversible. The severity of corneal changes was reduced when ketamine–xylazine anesthesia was reversed with yohimbine. Compared with Sprague-Dawley and Lewis rats, Wistar, Long-Evans, and Fischer 344 rats had increased incidence and severity of corneal lesions after anesthesia with ketamine–xylazine, suggesting that these three strains are at increased risk for developing postanesthetic corneal lesions with this regimen.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Pfizer Global Research and Development, Sheridan Park Laboratories, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5K 1B4, Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 2: Pfizer La Jolla Laboratories, Safety Sciences, San Diego, California 92121

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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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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