Manuel Martin-Flores, MV, DACVAA

Pharmacologic antagonism of the cardiovascular impairment produced by the commonly used sedative / analgesic dexmedetomidine in anesthetized cats

Manuel Martin-Flores, MV, DACVAA

In the US, most cats that undergo surgery are given the sedative drug dexmedetomidine (DXM) to calm them down prior to general anesthesia, which puts them to sleep. However, in many cats DXM causes the heart rate to slow to a dangerously slow rate, a condition called bradycardia. Veterinarians will often administer small doses of an antidote to DXM to counterbalance the bradycardia and raise the heart rate, but Dr. Manuel-Martin Flores and his colleagues at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals observed that cats subjected to the stresses of these dexmedetomidine-antidote treatments did not do well and often developed dangerously low blood pressure.

Concerned about the implications for cats given DMX, Martin-Flores secured a grant from the Cornell Feline Health Center to determine whether it’s safe to use the antidote to try to alleviate DMX-induced bradycardia. Currently, he and his team are busy collecting data, including heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output in cats undergoing sedation with DXM and treatment with the antidote. They expect to publish their results in 2017.