The effects of subconjunctival bupivacaine, lidocaine, and mepivacaine on corneal sensitivity in healthy horses.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To compare the efficacy and duration of effect of three local anesthetics on corneal sensitivity when administered subconjunctivally in horses.

ANIMALS STUDIED

Eight healthy adult horses.

PROCEDURE

A randomized, masked, crossover study design was used, with a two-week washout period between trials. The subconjunctival space of the randomly selected eye was injected with 0.2 mLs of bupivacaine (0.5%), lidocaine (2%), mepivacaine (2%), or saline. All horses received each medication once. The contralateral eye served as a control. The corneal touch threshold (CTT) was measured in both eyes with a Cochet-Bonnet esthesiometer prior to sedation with xylazine, after sedation, and at 10-min intervals after subconjunctival injection until corneal sensitivity returned to baseline. The total time of decreased CTT and the maximum decrease in CTT were compared for each medication using a general linear mixed model (P < 0.05).

RESULTS

Total time of decreased CTT was 105.0 min for bupivacaine, 103.8 min for lidocaine, 138.8 min for mepivacaine, and 7.5 min for saline. All local anesthetics decreased CTT longer than saline (P < 0.001) and mepivacaine decreased CTT longer than lidocaine (P = 0.04). The mean minimum CTT was 1.67 cm for bupivacaine, 1.42 cm for lidocaine, and 0.73 cm for mepivacaine, which were all significantly less (P < 0.001) than saline (4.73 cm). No evidence of corneal toxicity was noted with any treatment.

CONCLUSION

Subconjunctival injections of lidocaine, bupivacaine, and mepivacaine effectively and safely reduce corneal sensitivity in eyes of healthy horses for 1.5-2 h, and may be useful for providing perioperative analgesia for equine corneal procedures.

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