Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of hydromorphone after intravenous and intramuscular administration in horses

Published:November 05, 2019DOI:



      To compare the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of hydromorphone in horses after intravenous (IV) and intramuscular (IM) administration.

      Study design

      Randomized, masked, crossover design.


      A total of six adult horses weighing [mean ± standard deviation (SD))] 447 ± 61 kg.


      Horses were administered three treatments with a 7 day washout. Treatments were hydromorphone 0.04 mg kg⁻1 IV with saline administered IM (H-IV), hydromorphone 0.04 mg kg⁻1 IM with saline IV (H-IM), or saline IV and IM (P). Blood was collected for hydromorphone plasma concentration at multiple time points for 24 hours after treatments. Pharmacodynamic data were collected for 24 hours after treatments. Variables included thermal nociceptive threshold, heart rate (HR), respiratory frequency (fR), rectal temperature, and fecal weight. Data were analyzed using mixed-effects linear models. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


      The mean ± SD hydromorphone terminal half-life (t1/2), clearance and volume of distribution of H-IV were 19 ± 8 minutes, 79 ± 12.9 mL minute⁻1 kg⁻1 and 1125 ± 309 mL kg⁻1. The t1/2 was 26.7 ± 9.25 minutes for H-IM. Area under the curve was 518 ± 87.5 and 1128 ± 810 minute ng mL⁻1 for H-IV and H-IM, respectively. The IM bioavailability was 217%. The overall thermal thresholds for both H-IV and H-IM were significantly greater than P (p < 0.0001 for both) and baseline (p = 0.006). There was no difference in thermal threshold between H-IV and H-IM. No difference was found in physical examination variables among groups or in comparison to baseline. Fecal weight was significantly less than P for H-IV and H-IM (p = 0.02).

      Conclusions and clinical relevance

      IM hydromorphone has high bioavailability and provides a similar degree of antinociception to IV administration.
      IM hydromorphone in horses provides a similar degree and duration of antinociception to IV administration.


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