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An Urban Experience
N. Schoemaker1, Y. van Zeeland1
1Utrecht University, Division of Zoological Medicine, Utrecht, Netherlands Antilles
Use of A Supraglottic Airway Device During Anesthesia in Rabbits
Nico Schoemaker, DVM, PhD, Dip ECZM (Small mammal & Avian), Dipl. ABVP-Avian &
Yvonne van Zeeland, DVM, MVR, PhD, Dip ECZM (Avian & Small mammal), CPBC
Division of Zoological Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
In rabbits, anesthetic risks are significantly higher than in dogs and cats. During prolonged anesthesia, assuring
a patent upper airway is vital to increase the chances
of survival. Currently, the most common method to achieve this is endotracheal intubation. This method of intubation is complicated by the rabbit’s oropharyngeal anatomy and tendency to develop laryngospasm during intubation. In addition, post-intubational complications may occur, such as respiratory arrest, laryngeal/tracheal injury or edema, or development of tracheal strictures.
In 2009, the V-gel® supraglottic airway device (SGAD; DocsInnovent, UK) was developed with the use of rabbit cadavers. After refinement of the prototype, which was designed specifically to fit the rabbit’s oropharyngeal anatomy, clinical trials were performed to validate its use in clinical practice. Recent studies have demonstrated that the SGAD can be placed faster compared to
an endotracheal tube ETT). The amount of attempts
to place an ETT is also much higher compared to
the SGAD. In addition, less mucosa trauma is seen when using the SGAD. When using positive pressure ventilation, leakage of anaesthetic pressure was seen 4 out of 9 rabbits at 6 cmH2O, while in the other 5 rabbits this leakage was only seen at pressures higher than 16 cmH2O. In another study, however, isoflurane leakage was comparable between rabbits in which an ETT or
a SGAD was used. Other (minor) complications which have been seen include linguocyanosis, gastric inflation, insertion difficulties due to improper anesthetic depth or dental issues. Based on these findings the V-gel SGAD can be considered a safe and suitable alternative to ETT in rabbits.
References for further reading
• Engbers S, Larkin A, Rousset N, Prebble M, Jonnalagadda M, Knight CG, Pang DS. Comparison of a Supraglottic Airway Device (v-gel®) with Blind Orotracheal Intubation in Rabbits. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2017;4.
• Brodbelt DC, Blissitt KJ, Hammond RA, Neath PJ, Young LE, Pfeiffer DU, Wood JL. The risk of death: the confidential enquiry into perioperative small animal fatalities. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 2008 Sep 1;35(5):365- 73.
• Crotaz IR. Initial feasibility investigation of the v-gel airway: an anatomically designed supraglottic airway device for use in companion animal veterinary anaesthesia. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 2010 Nov 1;37(6):579-80.
• Grint NJ, Sayers IR, Cecchi R, Harley R, Day MJ. Postanaesthetic tracheal strictures in three rabbits. Laboratory Animals. 2006 Jul 1;40(3):301-8.
• Phaneuf LR, Barker S, Groleau MA, Turner PV. Tracheal injury after endotracheal intubation and anesthesia in rabbits. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. 2006 Nov 1;45(6):67-72.
• Wenger S, Müllhaupt D, Ohlerth S, Prasse S, Klein K, da Silva Valente B, Mosing M. Experimental evaluation of four airway devices in anaesthetized New Zealand White rabbits. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 2017 Jan 11.

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