Use of the opioid buprenorphine before equine elective general anaesthesia and surgery results in better postoperative analgesia than butorphanol, a recent study has shown.
The study included 89 healthy adult horses from six UK equine veterinary clinics admitted for routine elective surgical procedures.
Butorphanol is often used in equine procedures due to familiarity and its undoubted value for enhancing alpha2-induced sedation.However, it is probably the least effective opioid as an analgesic.
There is also a common perception butorphanol has less impact on locomotor stimulation and depression of intestinal motility than other opioids. This is likely to have contributed to the almost exclusive use of NSAIDs to manage pain in the postoperative period.
The study showed horses experienced less postoperative pain after buprenorphine than with butorphanol premedication. Buprenorphine did not cause any more undesirable side effects than butorphanol.
Buprenorphine is the the active ingredient in Ceva Animal Health’s licensed analgesic Vetergesic.