Randomized clinical trial comparing outcomes after fentanyl or ketamine-dexmedetomidine analgesia in thoracolumbar spinal surgery in dogs. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Opioids are widely used for perioperative pain control in dogs undergoing spinal surgery, but alternatives may be required because data suggest that opioids exacerbate inflammation in the injured spinal cord and veterinary access to opioids may become more restricted in the future. OBJECTIVES: To compare recovery of ambulation and other functions between spinal cord-injured dogs receiving peri-operative fentanyl and those receiving a ketamine-dexmedetomidine combination. ANIMALS: A total of 102 client-owned dogs undergoing decompressive surgery for thoracolumbar intervertebral disc herniation. METHODS: Randomized clinical trial. Dogs were randomized 1:1 to fentanyl or a ketamine-dexmedetomidine combination for intra and postoperative analgesia. Primary outcome was time to recovery of ambulation; secondary outcomes were the postoperative Colorado Acute Pain Scale, the short-form Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Scale, time to recovery of voluntary urination and time to unassisted eating. RESULTS: No difference was found in time to recovery of ambulation between groups (adjusted sub-hazard ratio, 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55-1.24; P=.36) or in pain scores (Colorado: 2 =14.74; P=.32; Glasgow: 2 =6.61; P=.76). Differences in time to recovery of eating and urination were small but favored ketamine-dexmedetomidine (adjusted odds ratios, 3.31; 95% CI, 1.53-7.16; P=.002 and 2.43; 95% CI, 1.00-5.96; P=.05, respectively). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: There was no evidence that, at the doses used, fentanyl impaired ambulatory outcome after surgery for thoracolumbar intervertebral disc herniation in dogs. Pain control appeared similar between groups. Secondary outcomes suggested minor benefits associated with ketamine-dexmedetomidine. The ketamine-dexmedetomidine combination appears to be a reasonable alternative to peri-operative opioids.

published proceedings

  • J Vet Intern Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Lovell, S., Simon, B., Boudreau, E. C., Mankin, J., & Jeffery, N.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Lovell, Stephanie||Simon, Bradley||Boudreau, Elizabeth C||Mankin, Joseph||Jeffery, Nicholas

publication date

  • January 2022