Anesthesia/Analgesia Special Focus: Reptiles
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2017
Bonnie D. Wright, DVM, DACVAA
Mistral Vet, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Cliff Notes of Considerations for Reptiles


1.  Airway and lungs:

a.  Complete tracheal rings (most).

b.  Thick secretions (clogged ETT).

c.  Proximal tracheal bifurcations.

d.  Variable response to CO2 and O2.

e.  Burst breathing and thoracic or limb motion to contribute.

f.  Inspiration and exhalation are both active processes.

2.  Cardiovascular:

a.  Most reptiles (non-crocodilian) have three-chambered heart
Nearly impossible to establish blood pressure/blood flow relationships during anesthesia, as the homeostasis is altered by drugs and changes in flow.

b.  Blood pressure tends to be lowest in marine reptiles (chelonians)and highest in larger, land reptiles (snakes).

3.  Support - heat support (normal temp for the species being treated) tops the charts in terms of importance during anesthesia or sedation.

4.  Pain physiology: The wiring for perception of pain (nociception) is present in reptiles. The significance of nociception to the behavior and homeostasis of reptiles is complex and poorly understood. Due to the negative physiological effects of pain, and the ethical imperative to treat if it could reasonably be presumed to be present, analgesic treatments are encouraged.

5.  Pharmacology:

a.  Discussion of the relevance of renal-portal system.

b.  Alfaxalone, alfaxalone, alfaxalone.

c.  Inhalants (because you have some control of elimination via ventilation).

d.  Current data on analgesic agents.

6.  Non-pharma:

a.  Dorsal recumbency.

b.  Reduced light intensity.

c.  Gentle ocular pressure.

d.  Acupuncture.

Speaker Information
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Bonnie D. Wright
Fort Collins, CO, USA