Rabbits under anaesthesia

Source: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
A rabbit put under anaesthesia for an operation is at much higher risk than, for instance, a dog or cat. Two specialists at the University Clinic for Companion Animals (UKG) have helped develop an instrument which lowers this risk.
A British research project, the Brodbelt Study, investigated the death of animals after anaesthesia associated with such procedures as castration. Rabbits were shown to have ten times more risk of death than do dogs and cats—and sick rabbits an even higher risk. Anatomical differences between the species was revealed to be the problem. While there is room enough in the mouth of a dog or cat for simple placement of a breathing tube in the airway, rabbits have a small mouth cavity and a thick tongue. These rodents also breathe only through the nose. Generally, a small mask over the nose has been used to induce anaesthesia, making leakage of anaesthetic gas possible and ventilation, if necessary, impossible.

Now, however, there is the newly designed V-gel, an airway with a ventilation mask that fits precisely over the nose and mouth. The V-gel (V for ‘veterinary’) was inspired by the I-gel, a comparable instrument for use in humans. The material, silicone gel, makes the instrument much softer and more flexible than traditional intubation tubes, so there is less damage to the airways. The V-gel is adapted to the anatomy of a rabbit’s mouth cavity. When two specialists from the UKG first learned about this instrument, there were three sizes of V-gel. They then worked with the manufacturer to develop three more sizes so that rabbits of every size can profit from the advantages of this new ventilation method.