Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia 2020, 47, 528-536

Immobilization quality and cardiopulmonary effects of etorphine alone compared with etorphine-azaperone in blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi)

Eugenio Gaudio, Liesel L Laubscher, Silke Pfitzer, Jacobus P Raath, Louw C Hoffman & Giulia M De Benedictis


To evaluate the immobilization quality and cardiopulmonary effects of etorphine alone compared with etorphine–azaperone in blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi).

Study design
Blinded, randomized, crossover design.

A total of 12 boma-habituated female blesbok weighing [mean ± standard deviation (SD)] 57.5 ± 2.5 kg.

Each animal was administered etorphine (0.09 mg kg–1) or etorphine–azaperone (0.09 mg kg–1; 0.35 mg kg–1) intramuscularly with 1-week intertreatment washout period. Time to first sign of altered state of consciousness and immobilization time were recorded. Physiological variables were recorded, arterial blood samples were taken during a 40-minute immobilization period, and naltrexone (mean ± SD: 1.83 ± 0.06 mg kg–1) was intravenously administered. Recovery times were documented, and induction, immobilization and recovery were subjectively scored. Statistical analyses were performed; p < 0.05 was significant.

No difference was observed in time to first sign, immobilization time and recovery times between treatments. Time to head up was longer with etorphine–azaperone (0.5 ± 0.2 versus 0.4 ± 0.2 minutes; p = 0.015). Etorphine caused higher arterial blood pressures (mean: 131 ± 17 versus 110 ± 11 mmHg, p < 0.0001), pH, rectal temperature and arterial oxygen partial pressure (59.2 ± 7.7 versus 42.2 ± 9.8 mmHg), but lower heart (p = 0.002) and respiratory rates (p = 0.01). Etorphine–azaperone combination led to greater impairment of ventilatory function, with higher end-tidal carbon dioxide (p < 0.0001) and arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide (58.0 ± 4.5 versus 48.1 ± 5.1 mmHg). Immobilization quality was greater with etorphine-azaperone than with etorphine alone (median scores: 4 versus 3; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions and clinical relevance
Both treatments provided satisfactory immobilization of blesbok; however, in addition to a deeper level of immobilization, etorphine–azaperone caused greater ventilatory impairment. Oxygen supplementation is recommended with both treatments.