Objective - To verify the isoflurane anesthetic minimum alveolar concentration (MAC)-sparing effect of a previously administered target plasma fentanyl concentration of 16 ng/mL and characterize an anticipated further sparing in isoflurane MAC associated with higher target plasma fentanyl concentrations. Animals - 8 horses. Procedures - Horses were assigned 2 of 3 target plasma fentanyl concentrations (16, 24, and 32 ng/mL), administered in ascending order. Following determination of baseline MAC, horses received a loading dose of fentanyl followed by a constant rate infusion; MAC determination was performed in triplicate at baseline and at each fentanyl concentration. Venous blood samples were collected throughout the study for determination of actual plasma fentanyl concentrations. Recovery from anesthesia was monitored, and behaviors were rated as excellent, good, fair, or poor. Results - Mean ± SD fentanyl plasma concentrations were 13.9 ± 2.6 ng/mL, 20.1 ± 3.6 ng/mL, and 24.1 ± 2.4 ng/mL for target concentrations of 16, 24, and 32 ng/mL, respectively. The corresponding changes in the MAC of isoflurane were -3.28%, -6.23%, and +1.14%. None of the changes were significant. Recovery behavior was variable and included highly undesirable, potentially injurious excitatory behavior. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Results of the study did not verify an isoflurane-sparing effect of fentanyl at a plasma target concentration of 16 ng/mL. Furthermore, a reduction in MAC was not detected at higher fentanyl concentrations. Overall, results did not support the routine use of fentanyl as an anesthetic adjuvant in adult horses.
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