Use of butorphanol and diprenorphine to counter respiratory impairment in the immobilised white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)

Meyer, Leith C. R. ; Fuller, Andrea ; Hofmeyr, Markus ; Buss, Peter E. ; Miller, Michele Ann ; Haw, Anna (2018)

CITATION: Meyer, L. C. R., et al. 2018. Use of butorphanol and diprenorphine to counter respiratory impairment in the immobilised white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, 89:a1683, doi:10.4102/jsava.v89i0.1683.

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Opioid-induced immobilisation results in severe respiratory impairment in the white rhinoceros. It has therefore been attempted in the field to reverse this impairment with the use of opioid agonist-antagonists, such as nalorphine, nalbuphine, butorphanol and diprenorphine; however, the efficacy of some of these treatments has yet to be determined. The efficacy of butorphanol, either alone or in combination with diprenorphine both with and without oxygen insufflation, in alleviating opioid-induced respiratory impairment was evaluated. The study was performed in two parts: a boma trial and a field trial. Rhinoceroses were immobilised specifically for the study, according to a strict protocol to minimise confounding variables. A two-way analysis of variance was used to compare the physiological responses of the rhinoceroses to the different treatments and their effects over time. The intravenous administration of butorphanol (at 3.3 mg per mg etorphine) plus diprenorphine (at 0.4 mg per mg etorphine) did not offer any advantage over butorphanol (at 15 mg per mg etorphine) alone with regard to improving PaO2, PaCO2 and respiratory rates in etorphine-immobilised white rhinoceroses. Both butorphanol + diprenorphine + oxygen and butorphanol + oxygen, at the doses used, significantly improved the etorphine-induced hypoxaemia in both boma- and field-immobilised white rhinoceroses. Clinically acceptable oxygenation in field-immobilised white rhinoceroses can be achieved by using either treatment regimen, provided that it is combined with oxygen insufflation.

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