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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Metabolism before, during and after anaesthesia in colic and healthy horses

Anna H Edner1*, Görel C Nyman2 and Birgitta Essén-Gustavsson1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

2 Department of Medical Sciences, Clinical Physiology, University hospital, Uppsala, Sweden

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2007, 49:34  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-49-34

Published: 15 November 2007

Abstract

Background

Many colic horses are compromised due to the disease state and from hours of starvation and sometimes long trailer rides. This could influence their muscle energy reserves and affect the horses' ability to recover. The principal aim was to follow metabolic parameter before, during, and up to 7 days after anaesthesia in healthy horses and in horses undergoing abdominal surgery due to colic.

Methods

20 healthy horses given anaesthesia alone and 20 colic horses subjected to emergency abdominal surgery were anaesthetised for a mean of 228 minutes and 183 minutes respectively. Blood for analysis of haematology, electrolytes, cortisol, creatine kinase (CK), free fatty acids (FFA), glycerol, glucose and lactate was sampled before, during, and up to 7 days after anaesthesia. Arterial and venous blood gases were obtained before, during and up to 8 hours after recovery. Gluteal muscle biopsy specimens for biochemical analysis of muscle metabolites were obtained at start and end of anaesthesia and 1 h and 1 day after recovery.

Results

Plasma cortisol, FFA, glycerol, glucose, lactate and CK were elevated and serum phosphate and potassium were lower in colic horses before anaesthesia. Muscle adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content was low in several colic horses. Anaesthesia and surgery resulted in a decrease in plasma FFA and glycerol in colic horses whereas levels increased in healthy horses. During anaesthesia muscle and plasma lactate and plasma phosphate increased in both groups. In the colic horses plasma lactate increased further after recovery. Plasma FFA and glycerol increased 8 h after standing in the colic horses. In both groups, plasma concentrations of CK increased and serum phosphate decreased post-anaesthesia. On Day 7 most parameters were not different between groups. Colic horses lost on average 8% of their initial weight. Eleven colic horses completed the study.

Conclusion

Colic horses entered anaesthesia with altered metabolism and in a negative oxygen balance. Muscle oxygenation was insufficient during anaesthesia in both groups, although to a lesser extent in the healthy horses. The post-anaesthetic period was associated with increased lipolysis and weight loss in the colic horses, indicating a negative energy balance during the first week post-operatively.