Original Research

Use of butorphanol and diprenorphine to counter respiratory impairment in the immobilised white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)

Leith C.R. Meyer, Andrea Fuller, Markus Hofmeyr, Peter Buss, Michele Miller, Anna Haw
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 89 | a1683 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v89i0.1683 | © 2018 Leith C.R. Meyer, Andrea Fuller, Markus Hofmeyr, Peter Buss, Michele Miller, Anna Haw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2018 | Published: 18 October 2018

About the author(s)

Leith C.R. Meyer, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria; and, School of Physiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Andrea Fuller, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria; and, School of Physiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Markus Hofmeyr, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa; and, Great Plains Conservation and Rhino without Borders, Maun, Botswana
Peter Buss, Veterinary Wildlife Services, South African National Parks; and, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Michele Miller, Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Anna Haw, School of Physiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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Abstract

Opioid-induced immobilisation results in severe respiratory impairment in the white rhinoceros. It has therefore been attempted in the field to reverse this impairment with the use of opioid agonist-antagonists, such as nalorphine, nalbuphine, butorphanol and diprenorphine; however, the efficacy of some of these treatments has yet to be determined. The efficacy of butorphanol, either alone or in combination with diprenorphine both with and without oxygen insufflation, in alleviating opioid-induced respiratory impairment was evaluated. The study was performed in two parts: a boma trial and a field trial. Rhinoceroses were immobilised specifically for the study, according to a strict protocol to minimise confounding variables. A two-way analysis of variance was used to compare the physiological responses of the rhinoceroses to the different treatments and their effects over time. The intravenous administration of butorphanol (at 3.3 mg per mg etorphine) plus diprenorphine (at 0.4 mg per mg etorphine) did not offer any advantage over butorphanol (at 15 mg per mg etorphine) alone with regard to improving PaO2, PaCO2 and respiratory rates in etorphine-immobilised white rhinoceroses. Both butorphanol + diprenorphine + oxygen and butorphanol + oxygen, at the doses used, significantly improved the etorphine-induced hypoxaemia in both boma- and field-immobilised white rhinoceroses. Clinically acceptable oxygenation in field-immobilised white rhinoceroses can be achieved by using either treatment regimen, provided that it is combined with oxygen insufflation.


Keywords

white rhinoceros; immobilisation; etorphine; butorphanol; diprenorphine; respiration; hypoxia

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