Effects of Midazolam and Midazolam-Butorphanol Sedation on Gastrointestinal Transit Times in Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017
Anna Martel-Arquette, DVM; Grayson Doss, DVM; Christoph Mans, DrMedVet, DACZM
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA


Gastrointestinal (GI) contrast radiography studies are frequently performed in birds and provide valuable diagnostic information. Sedation in birds is commonly performed in order to facilitate a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and therefore may facilitate repeated radiographic positioning for GI contrast studies; however, the effects of sedative drugs on GI motility and transit times have not been evaluated in birds to date.1-4 A controlled, randomized, blinded, complete crossover study of 12 healthy adult cockatiels (six male, six female) (Nymphicus hollandicus) was used to evaluate the effects of midazolam (6 mg/kg IM), and midazolam (3 mg/kg IM) combined with butorphanol (3 mg/kg IM) on GI transit times and motility. Iohexol (20 ml/kg) was administered by crop gavage 15 minutes after administration of the sedative drugs, and fluoroscopy was used to evaluate gastrointestinal transit times and motility at several timepoints. Both sedation protocols significantly affected GI transit times and motility (p<0.05), and the MB protocol had more pronounced effects. Overall median (range) GI transit times were 60 (30–120), 90 (30–120), and 120 (120–180) minutes for the control, M, and MB groups, respectively. Ventricular contractions were markedly reduced with both sedation protocols, while esophageal boluses were only reduced in the MB group. The results of this study show that commonly used sedative drugs have a significant effect on GI transit time and motility in birds. This effect should be considered when planning and interpreting GI contrast studies in avian patients.

Literature Cited

1.  Ernst S, Goggin JM, Biller DS, Carpenter JW, Silverman S. Comparison of iohexol and barium sulfate as gastrointestinal contrast media in mid-sized psittacine birds. J Avian Med Surg. 1998;12(1):16–20.

2.  Kusmierczyk J, Wall CR, Hoppes S, Budke CM, Spaulding KA. Comparison of computed tomographic images of birds obtained with sedation vs general anesthesia. J Exot Pet Med. 2013;22(3):251–257.

3.  Mans C, Guzman DS, Lahner LL, Paul-Murphy JR, Sladky KK. Sedation and physiological response to manual restraint following intranasal administration of midazolam in Hispaniolan Amazon parrots (Amazona ventralis). J Avian Med Surg. 2012;26(3):130–139.

4.  Vink-Nooteboom M, Lumeij JT, Wolvekamp WT. Radiography and image-intensified fluoroscopy of barium passage through the gastrointestinal tract in six healthy Amazon parrots (Amazona aestiva). Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2003;44(1):43–48.


Speaker Information
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Christoph Mans, DrMedVet, DACZM
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI, USA

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