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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2006

Effects of epidural morphine and transdermal fentanyl analgesia on physiology and behaviour after abdominal surgery in pigs

Malavasi LM, Nyman G, Augustsson H, Jacobson M, Jensen-Waern M


The objective of this work was to evaluate the physiological and behavioural effects of opioid analgesic treatment in pigs subjected to abdominal surgery. Ten Swedish Landrace x Yorkshire pigs (20 +/- 4 kg b.w.) were submitted for intestinal cannulation. The pigs were allocated into two groups during one preoperative, one surgical and two postoperative days. All pigs were anaesthetized with medetomidine, tiletamine and zolazepam. One group was treated with epidural morphine (0.1 mg/kg) preoperatively, and transdermal fentanyl patches (50 mu g/kg/h) were applied behind the ear immediately after surgery. The other group received epidural saline (equivalent volume) and placebo patches. All pigs were regularly weighed and clinically examined and repeated blood samples were analysed for serum concentrations of cortisol, P-endorphin and fentanyl. Pre- and postoperative behaviours were evaluated by a swine specialist blinded to the treatment, three times a day, and were also videotape recorded for a total of 84 h per pig. No differences in behaviour were noted by the observer. During the first postoperative 12 h, treated pigs did not differ in activity compared with preoperative recordings, while untreated pigs were found to be less active. The treated group started to show interest in eating immediately after anaesthesia recovery, whereas the placebo group did not. During the 12-60 h postoperative period, the treated group had lower activity levels compared with the preoperative levels, which were similar to those in the placebo group. Treated pigs gained 0.5+/-0.2 kg during the subsequent two postoperative days, whereas the untreated pigs lost weight throughout the experiment. Cortisol concentration differed immediately after the surgery: Group P had 325+/-120 nmol/L and Group M 159+/-49 nmol/L. beta-endorphin concentration did not differ between groups. The highest serum fentanyl concentration (0.37+/-0.3 ng/mL) was measured 24 h postoperatively. Preoperative epidural morphine in combination with postoperative transdermal fentanyl resulted in earlier return to normal activity levels and an immediate weight gain after surgery

Published in

Laboratory Animals
2006, Volume: 40, number: 1, pages: 16-27

      SLU Authors

    • Jacobson, Magdalena

      • Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Jensen Waern, Marianne

        • Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Clinical Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)