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Anesthesia: overview



  • The rabbit is easily stressed, especially when frequent and forceful handling is necessary.
  • Struggling and kicking can lead to traumatic injury, eg spinal fractures Spinal injury, and scratches of the handler. Catecholamines released after such stress may also significantly affect cardiovascular parameters.
  • Manual restraint Handling / restraint is sufficient for certain procedures, eg blood sampling Venipuncture, depending on individual temperament and expertise in handling. Wrapping in a towel can help, but this limits clinical examination and procedures.
  • Other procedures or diagnostics, such as radiography Radiography: thorax Radiography: dental, examination of the oral cavity Dental examination, and some treatments are greatly facilitated following chemical restraint (sedation Sedation).
  • Indications for general anesthesia are numerous and include common surgical procedures such as:

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Uzun M, Kiraz H A, Ovali M A et al (2015) The investigation of airway management capacity of v-gel and cobra-PLA in anesthetised rabbits. Acta Cir Bras 30 (1), 80-86 PubMed.
  • Johnson D H (2010) Endoscopic intubation of exotic companion mammals. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract 13 (2), 273-289 PubMed.
  • Martinez M A, Murison P J & Love E (2009) Induction of anaesthesia with either midazolam or propofol in rabbits premedicated with fentanyl/fluanisone. Vet Rec 164 (26), 803-806 PubMed.
  • Longley L (2008) Anesthesia and analgesia in rabbits and rodents. In Pract 30 (2), 92-97 VetMedResource.
  • Bateman L, Ludders J W, Gleed R D et al (2005) Comparison between facemask and laryngeal mask airway in rabbits during isoflurane anesthesia. Vet Anesth Analg 32 (5), 280-288 PubMed.
  • González Gil A, Silván G, Illera J C (2005) Effects of barbiturate administration on hepatic and renal biochemical parameters in New Zealand white rabbits. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci 44 (6), 43-45 PubMed.
  • Orr H E, Roughan J V & Flecknell P A (2005) Assessment of ketamine and medetomidine anesthesia in the domestic rabbit. Vet Anesth Analg 32 (5), 271-279 PubMed.
  • Gil A G, Silvan G, Illera M et al (2004) The effects of anesthesia on the clinical chemistry of New Zealand white rabbits. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci 43 (3), 25-29 PubMed.
  • Hedenqvist P, Rougham J V, Antunes L et al (2001) Induction of anaesthesia with desflurane and isoflurane in the rabbit. Lab Anim 35 (2), 172-179 PubMed.
  • Borkowski R & Karas A Z (1999) Sedation and anesthesia of pet rabbits. Clin Tech Small Animal Pract 14 (1), 44-49 PubMed.
  • Flecknell P A, Roughan J V & Hedenqvist P (1999) Induction of anaesthesia with sevoflurane and isoflurane in the rabbit. Lab Anim 33 (1), 41-46 PubMed.
  • Imai A, Steffey E P, Ilkiw J E et al (1999) Comparison of clinical signs and hemodynamic variables used to monitor rabbits during halothane- and isoflurane-induced anesthesia. Am J Vet Res 60 (10), 1189-1195 PubMed.
  • Flecknell P A & Liles J H (1996) Halothane anaesthesia in the rabbit - a comparison of the effects of medetomidine, acepromazine and midazolam on breath-holding during induction. J Vet Anaesth 23 (1), 11-14 VetMedResource.
  • Aeschbacher G (1995) Rabbit anesthesia. Comp Contin Educ Pract Vet 17 (8), 1003-1011 VetMedResource.
  • Hillyer E V (1994) Pet rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 24 (1), 25-65 PubMed.
  • Peeters M, Gil D, Teske E et al (1988) Four methods for general anaesthesia in the rabbit: a comparative study. Lab Anim 22 (4), 355-360 PubMed.
  • Weichbrod R H, Cisar C F, Miller J G et al (1988) Effects of cage beddings on microsomal oxidative enzymes in rat liver. Lab Anim Sci 38 (3), 296-298 PubMed.
  • Sedgwick C J (1986) Anesthesia for rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract(3), 731-736 PubMed.
  • Drummond J C (1985) MAC for halothane, enflurane, and isoflurane in the New Zealand White rabbit and a test for the validity of MAC determinations. Anesthesiology 62 (3), 336-338 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Varga M (2014) Anesthesia and analgesia. In: Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. 2nd edn. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford. pp 178-202.
  • Hawkins M G & Pascoe P J (2012) Anesthesia, analgesia and sedation of Small Mammals. In: Ferrets, Rabbits & Rodents: Clinical Medicine & Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Saunders. pp 429-451.
  • Flecknell P A (2006) Anesthesia and Peri-operative Care. In: Manual of Rabbit Medicine & Surgery. 2nd edn. Eds: Meredith A & Flecknell P A. BSAVA. pp 154-156.
  • Brodbelt D C, Young L, Pfeiffer D et al (2005) Risk Factors for Anesthetic-related Deaths in Rabbits. In: Proc BSAVA Congress. pp 29.

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