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Anaesthesia in lambs undergoing experimental surgery may develop problems associated with age-related immune incompetency: a postoperative complication in a 3 week old Scottish blackface lamb after spinal surgery is presented. CASE HISTORY AND MANAGEMENT: Both lamb and ewe were in good condition. The ewe was vaccinated against Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium tetani 5 weeks pre-partum. There were no apparent problems with the lamb's intake of colostrum. Pre-anaesthetic medication was intramuscular medetomidine (10 μg kg(-1)). Anaesthesia was induced and maintained with sevoflurane in oxygen. Morphine (0.5 mg kg(-1)), meloxicam (0.6 mg kg(-1)) and ketamine (1 mg kg(-1) followed by 10 μg kg(-1) minute(-1)) were administered intravenously (IV) for perioperative analgesia. Atracurium (0.5 mg kg(-1) IV, followed by 0.17 mg kg(-1) injected when the first twitch of the four, train-of four count was palpated) was used to improve muscle relaxation. The lamb's trachea was intubated and the lungs mechanically ventilated to maintain normocapnia. Intrathecal morphine (0.2 mg kg(-1)), IV meloxicam (0.3 mg kg(-1)) and edrophonium (0.5 mg kg(-1)) were administered before recovery. Operative and initial recovery periods were unremarkable. Three hours after surgery the lamb became depressed. Tachycardia (180-250 beats minute(-1)), tachypnoea (30 breaths minute(-1)), poor peripheral perfusion and cold pelvic limb extremities were present mimicking severe pain, and/or hypovolaemic shock. Analgesics - morphine (total dose 1.3 mg kg(-1)) - and IV fluid therapy boluses - crystalloids (300 mL), colloids (120 mL) and fresh whole blood (60 mL) - failed to ameliorate clinical signs and so the lamb was euthanized 10 hours after surgery. Post-mortem findings supported a possible diagnosis of peracute Clostridium perfringens enterotoxaemia. Clostridium perfringens enterotoxaemia should be considered when clinical signs of severe pain and/or hypovolaemic shock fail to respond to analgesics and fluid resuscitation in lambs after major surgery. © 2011 The Authors. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia © 2011 Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists and the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists.


Enzo Vettorato, Gudrun Schoeffmann, Philippa Beard, R Eddie Clutton. Postoperative complications in a lamb after major surgery. Veterinary anaesthesia and analgesia. 2011 Jan;38(1):63-9

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PMID: 21214711

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