Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University

Collaborating to Decrease Horse Mortality Rates

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pictured (left to right): Drs. Dan Burba, Kip Lemke, Mr. John Minnerly, Drs. Megan Williams and Jerry Malayer.

Clinical researchers at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences are excited about a collaborative effort to research the potential causes of injury and death in horses associated with routine surgeries. The Fort Worth/Tarrant County Animal Health Foundation recently presented a check to Drs. Kip Lemke, Daniel Burba, Megan Williams and Jerry Malayer to help fund a study entitled, “Effects of dexmedetomidine and morphine on anesthetic depth, cardiopulmonary function, recovery characteristics, and stress responses in horses anesthetized with sevoflurane.”

Led by Lemke, professor of anesthesiology, this study will try to determine which balanced anesthetic protocols have the greatest potential to reduce perioperative morbidity and mortality in healthy horses undergoing routine surgical procedures.

“Death of horses anesthetized for routine surgical procedures is reported higher than for other animals,” explained Lemke. “Injury during recovery from anesthesia accounts for 25 to 50 percent of those deaths. Most animals experience a brief period of delirium and excitation as they recover from inhaled anesthesia. In horses, this state can be prolonged and can lead to traumatic injuries that require euthanasia.”

According to Lemke, in most species opioids, such as morphine or fentanyl, are given perioperatively to provide analgesia and to reduce the amount of inhaled anesthetic required to maintain adequate depth. These drugs may contribute to the delirium and excitation observed during recovery from anesthesia.

“In horses, intraoperative administration of opioids activates the sympathetic nervous system, increases the amount of inhaled anesthetic required to maintain adequate depth, and may  contribute to the delirium and excitation observed during recovery from anesthesia,” added Lemke. “Our research project aims to determine anesthesia protocols that will reduce perioperative morbidity and mortality in horses and we sincerely appreciate the support of the Fort Worth/Tarrant County Animal Health Foundation in this endeavor.”

If you would like to support veterinary medical research to improve the health and welfare of animals, contact Ms. Chris Sitz, senior director of development with the OSU Foundation, at csitz@osugiving.com or 405-385-5170.

Article Tags:
blog comments powered by Disqus