Midazolam, Butorphanol, Ketamine, and Isoflurane Combination Anesthesia of Ostriches (Struthio camelus)
James E. Bailey1, DVM, MS, DACVA; Pamela D. Govett, DVM2
Ostrich production facilities have expanded exponentially over the last decade in the United States. With the increasing number of ostriches and crowded husbandry conditions, more diseases are being identified and new diseases are developing. Many situations require close examination and, perhaps, surgical intervention. Manual restraint is usually inadequate and often dangerous to both the ostrich and the handler. For this reason, chemical immobilization and anesthesia are vital tools in medical therapy of ostriches. A suitable anesthetic technique has yet to be established for ostriches. Investigators have utilized various anesthetic agents, but none have demonstrated consistent results. The focus of this report is the description of a safe, predictable general anesthetic technique for ostriches. Anesthetizing ostriches requires both physiologic and logistic considerations. In general, veterinarians strive to use the safest anesthetic drug for the bird, but ostriches are dangerous to handle, so the drug must have a high efficacy as well. We suggest a combination of midazolam (Versed, Roche, Humacao, Puerto Rico 00791), butorphanol (Torbugesic, Fort Dodge Laboratories, Fort Dodge, IA 50501 USA), and ketamine (Ketaset, Fort Dodge Laboratories, Fort Dodge, IA 50501 USA), for anesthetizing ostriches to reduce the amount and cost of midazolam required for sedation, reduce the concentration of isoflurane (IsoFlo, Abbott, North Chicago, IL 60015 USA) necessary to maintain an anesthetic plane, minimize the cardiopulmonary effects of anesthesia, and provide smoother recoveries. In this study, adult ostriches (Struthio camelus; n=9) were anesthetized with a combination of midazolam, butorphanol, ketamine, and isoflurane. During anesthesia, intravenous fluids (Lactated Ringers Injection, Baxter, Deerfield, IL 60064 USA) were delivered at a rate of 10 ml/kg/h. Systolic, diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure (ABP), heart rate, heart rhythm, temperature, respiratory rate, respiratory volume and inspiratory pressure were measured every 5 min. Electrocardiograms and ABP were recorded in a multichannel paper recorder. Other parameters measured included blood gases, end-expiratory carbon dioxide, and blood oxygen saturation. The midazolam/butorphanol/ketamine/isoflurane combination was used successfully in eight ostriches.