Author Archives: panglab

paper published – dog sedation


well done to Marika on completing and publishing a simple, but hopefully very useful study evaluating the performance of a sedation scale for dogs. sedation is commonly used in dogs to allow a range of minor procedures to be done, such as x-rays, scans, examining injuries. it is very common for research studies to assess sedation and we noticed that very few studies use the same scale to make this assessment. this makes it difficult, if not impossible, to compare results between studies.

an unexpected, and surprising result, was that a number of dogs were more deeply sedated than expected. this highlights the importance of closely monitoring our patients and reversing the effects of any drugs that can be reversed once a procedure is complete.

in the spirit of openness, data for this study were deposited in a repository.


paper published – rabbit airways


this study was a nice collaborative project with a radiologist, lab animal veterinarian, and pathologist. rabbits have a reputation of being difficult to intubate (placing a breathing tube in their windpipes), as it takes practice to master the technique. as a result, a new device, the v-gel has been developed to make the process of providing oxygen and anesthetic agent faster and simpler. in a fairly simple study we compared the v-gel to traditional airway management (endotracheal intubation). the v-gel was faster to place than the endotracheal tube and, importantly, placing it was consistently quick, minimizing any period of decreased ventilation.
where the v-gel did not perform as well as expected was in the size of airway provided: it showed a tendency for the tip of the device to migrate towards the larynx and reduce the airway diameter. though this reduction in diameter was unfortunate, it was not smaller than with an endotracheal tube.

the paper is available open access through the Frontiers group (with access to the rather snazzy video pictured below):


enhanced recovery after surgery

after a wonderfully swift (and painless) review and publication process, our paper focusing on appetite as an outcome of enhanced recovery after surgery in cats has been published in the journal of feline medicine and surgery.

a small change in anaesthesia technique, substituting alfaxalone for ketamine, resulted in 20% more cats beginning to feed within an hour after surgery. importantly, pain relief was equivalent between treatment groups. this paper was the result of a summer project by Tatum and Marika, carried out with the support of a local spay-neuter clinic.

2017-03-19 09.15.22 pm

improving rat euthanasia

a while ago, we compared intraperitoneal pentobarbital as a euthanasia technique with carbon dioxide overdose in rats. we expected, naively, that this would serve as an appropriate gold standard but were disappointed to find considerable variety in its effects, including a fairly high misinjection rate. the misinjection rate has been documented before, in rats and mice e.g. Corey-Avila et al. 2007 Lab Anim 36:25-30.

we wondered if the variability in effect could be improved, if not the misinjection rate. so we compared a fairly standard dose of pentobarbital with a high dose and a larger volume of the standard dose. time to loss of consciousness was shorter with both high dose and high volume approaches and similar with each technique; however, the time to death was substantially faster in the high dose group (5 times faster than the standard dose and 3 times faster than the high volume group). thus, the higher dose shortens the time to death, limiting any period of suffering that might exist. additionally, because of the reduced variability, we were able to suggest guidelines for when a misinjection has occurred i.e. if loss of consciousness does not occur within 2.5 minutes of injection. these findings should improve both the speed and predictability of euthanasia in rats when using an intraperitoneal pentobarbital injection technique.

this project was the work of katie zatroch, who is now an anesthesiology resident. the resultant paper has been published in BMC Vet Research (DOI: 10.1186/s12917-017-0982-y).

2017-03-19 08.48.40 pm

paper early on line

Just had a notification that one of our papers is now available early on-line (pre-formatted version). There was a delay is this coming out as our specialty journal, veterinary anaesthesia and analgesia has recently migrated publishers, from Wiley to Elsevier. I have very mixed feelings about the change of publisher (our paper was submitted months before the change came in to effect) as Elsevier has received considerable criticism for its business model, where libraries have limited ability to subscribe to single journals titles but rather, must subscribe to large (expensive) packages of titles that include the title they are interested in. This is better and more completely explained here, here and here. I am not (yet) a signatory on The Cost of Knowledge Website as Vet Anaesth Analg remains the most efficient way to reach our target audience for most of our clinical research papers. This is a difficult position: support colleagues in other fields, notably mathematics, who are more directly affected by these business practices by publishing elsewhere and risk missing our target audience (or at least slowing the time for our papers to be “found”), or continue as usual to ensure the visibility of our research? I have little doubt that our recent move to publishing more frequently in open access journals has had a negative effect on who sees our work. I have tried to offset this by sending links to papers to colleagues who I think might be interested, though this form of self-promotion feels a little odd.

Of course, Elsevier is not alone in its practices. It just happened to be the first publisher to face a large scale, organized response from scientists.


Back to the paper…we used a very nice demeanor (behaviour) assessment scale, published by Gareth Zeiler, to show that demeanor can interfere with pain assessment. Essentially, cats that are timid or aggressive tend to have inflated pain scores. This is not a justification to not administer analgesia (pain relief) but another indication that, sadly, pain assessment is more complicated than we’d like to believe.

congratulations Jesse!

many congratulations to Jesse on winning a poster presentation prize at the University of Calgary’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Veterinary students often struggle with selecting the appropriate endotracheal tube size for different sizes of dogs. Placing an endotracheal tube (breathing tube) in the trachea is a key skill as part of anaesthetic management as it facilitates breathing and protects the airway (and lungs) from accidentally inhaling foreign material. However, there are few guidelines available on how to select the correct tube size; large variations in body weight and race (think chihuahua, great dane and pug!) mean that this skill is largely gained through experience.

Jesse took a lot of anatomical measurements and tried to find if there were any that could be used to predict the correct endotracheal tube size. Though none were ideal, he did identify a  couple of options that serve as a good starting point, helping students to get within a few millimetres of the right size.