Jump to Main Content
Maintenance of equine anaesthesia over the last 50 years: Controlled inhalation of volatile anaesthetics and pulmonary ventilation
- Mosing, M., Senior, J. M.
- Equine veterinary journal 2018 v.50 no.3 pp. 282-291
- anesthesia, breathing, gas exchange, halothane, horses, isoflurane, lung function, lungs, pathophysiology
- In the first edition of this journal, Barbara Weaver wrote a review titled ‘Equine Anaesthesia’, stating that, at that time, it was quickly becoming accepted practice that many horses were being anaesthetised ‘by essentially similar procedures, i.e. premedication, induction and then maintenance by controlled inhalation’. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first edition of this journal, this review covers the development of understanding and practice of inhalational anaesthesia and controlled ventilation in horses over the last 50 years. We review how the perceived benefits of halothane led to its widespread use, but subsequently better understanding of halothane's effects led to changes in equine anaesthetic practice and the utilisation of different inhalation agents (e.g. isoflurane and sevoflurane). We discuss how more recently, better understanding of the effects of the ‘newer’ inhalation agents’ effects has led to yet more changes in equine anaesthetic practice, and while, further new inhalation agents are unlikely to appear in the near future, further enhancements to anaesthetic practice may still lead to improved outcomes. We review advances in our understanding of the anatomy and pathophysiology of the equine lung as well of the effects of anaesthesia on lung function and how these predispose to some of the common problems of gas exchange and ventilation during anaesthesia. We identify the aims of optimal mechanical ventilation for anaesthetic management and whether the various methods of ventilatory support during equine anaesthesia achieve them. We also highlight that further developments in equipment and optimal ventilator modes are likely in the near future.