Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of l-methadone in isoflurane-anaesthetized and mechanically ventilated ponies

Published:December 08, 2020DOI:



      To evaluate the pharmacokinetics and selected pharmacodynamic effects of a commercially available l-methadone/fenpipramide combination administered to isoflurane anaesthetized ponies.

      Study design

      Prospective single-group interventional study.


      A group of six healthy adult research ponies (four mares, two geldings).


      Ponies were sedated with intravenous (IV) detomidine (0.02 mg kg–1) and butorphanol (0.01 mg kg–1) for an unrelated study. Additional IV detomidine (0.004 mg kg–1) was administered 85 minutes later, followed by induction of anaesthesia using IV diazepam (0.05 mg kg–1) and ketamine (2.2 mg kg–1). Anaesthesia was maintained with isoflurane in oxygen. Baseline readings were taken after 15 minutes of stable isoflurane anaesthesia. l-Methadone (0.25 mg kg–1) with fenpipramide (0.0125 mg kg–1) was then administered IV. Selected cardiorespiratory variables were recorded every 10 minutes and compared to baseline using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Adverse events were recorded. Arterial plasma samples for analysis of plasma concentrations and pharmacokinetics of l-methadone were collected throughout anaesthesia at predetermined time points. Data are shown as mean ± standard deviation or median and interquartile range (p < 0.05).


      Plasma concentrations of l-methadone showed a rapid initial distribution phase followed by a slower elimination phase which is best described with a two-compartment model. The terminal half-life was 44.3 ± 18.0 minutes, volume of distribution 0.43 ± 0.12 L kg–1 and plasma clearance 7.77 ± 1.98 mL minute–1 kg–1. Mean arterial blood pressure increased from 85 (±16) at baseline to 100 (±26) 10 minutes after l-methadone/fenpipramide administration (p = 0.031). Heart rate remained constant. In two ponies fasciculations occurred at different time points after l-methadone administration.

      Conclusions and clinical relevance

      Administration of a l-methadone/fenpipramide combination to isoflurane anaesthetized ponies led to a transient increase in blood pressure without concurrent increases in heart rate. Pharmacokinetics of l-methadone were similar to those reported for conscious horses administered racemic methadone.


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