Plasma concentrations, behavioural and physiological effects following intravenous and intramuscular detomidine in horses

K. R. Mama, K. Grimsrud, T. Snell, S. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Reasons for performing study: Detomidine hydrochloride is used to provide sedation, muscle relaxation and analgesia in horses, but a lack of information pertaining to plasma concentration has limited the ability to correlate drug concentration with effect. Objectives: To build on previous information and assess detomidine for i.v. and i.m. use in horses by simultaneously assessing plasma drug concentrations, physiological parameters and behavioural characteristics. Hypothesis: Systemic effects would be seen following i.m. and i.v. detomidine administration and these effects would be positively correlated with plasma drug concentrations. Methods: Behavioural (e.g. head position) and physiological (e.g. heart rate) responses were recorded at fixed time points from 4 min to 24 h after i.m. or i.v. detomidine (30 μg/kg bwt) administration to 8 horses. Route of administration was assigned using a balanced crossover design. Blood was sampled at predetermined time points from 0.5 min to 48 h post administration for subsequent detomidine concentration measurements using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Data were summarised as mean ± s.d. for subsequent analysis of variance for repeated measures. Results: Plasma detomidine concentration peaked earlier (1.5 min vs. 1.5 h) and was significantly higher (105.4 ± 71.6 ng/ml vs. 6.9 ± 1.4 ng/ml) after i.v. vs. i.m. administration. Physiological and behavioural changes were of a greater magnitude and observed at earlier time points for i.v. vs. i.m. groups. For example, head position decreased from an average of 116 cm in both groups to a low value 35 ± 23 cm from the ground 10 min following i.v. detomidine and to 64 ± 24 cm 60 min after i.m. detomidine. Changes in heart rate followed a similar pattern; low value of 17 beats/min 10 min after i.v. administration and 29 beats/min 30 min after i.m. administration. Conclusions: Plasma drug concentration and measured effects were correlated positively and varied with route of administration following a single dose of detomidine. Potential relevance: Results support a significant influence of route of administration on desirable and undesirable drug effects that influence case management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-777
Number of pages6
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Detomidine
  • Horse
  • Pharmacology
  • Sedative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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