While anesthesia is not commonly used as a management tool on the farm, it can provide producers and veterinarians with additional options to deal with difficult challenges.

Such challenges include difficult respiratory cases, utilizing tracheal culture and bronchoalveolar lavage, treatment of wounds and injuries on pigs that would otherwise be culled, and on-farm assistance and sedation of aggressive boars for reproductive exams.

A major anesthesia disadvantage is the inconsistent recovery time. Yohimbine (alpha-2 antagonist) effectively reverses the anesthetic effects of sows anesthetized with a combination of xylazine, ketamine and telazol. Yohimbine reduced overall recovery time by 172 minutes compared to sows treated with saline. Return to sensibility for all measures was quicker for yohimbine-treated sows compared to saline-treated sows.

This treatment decreases time complications caused by anesthesia and employee time spent monitoring the animal during recovery.

All anesthetic agents in swine are considered extra-label, so implementation of anesthesia on farm requires a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. All agents need to be prescribed by that veterinarian.

Yohimbine may be a tool for veterinarians and researchers to ensure that sows have a quicker recovery from anesthesia with minimal complications.

Researcher: Monique Paris Garcia, DVM, Iowa State University. For more information, contact Garcia by phone (951) 442-0429 or e-mail mdpairis@iastate.edu.