Although sedation is frequently used to facilitate patient compliance in feline echocardiography, the effects of sedative drugs on echocardiographic variables have been poorly documented. This study investigated the effects of two sedation protocols on echocardiographic indices in healthy cats, with special emphasis on the assessment of left atrial size and function, as well as left ventricular diastolic performance. Seven cats underwent echocardiography (transthoracic two-dimensional, spectral Doppler, color flow Doppler and tissue Doppler imaging) before and after sedation with both acepromazine (0.1 mg/kg IM) and butorphanol (0.25 mg/kg IM), or acepromazine (0.1 mg/kg IM), butorphanol (0.25 mg/kg IM) and ketamine (1.5 mg/kg IV). Heart rate increased significantly following acepromazine/butorphanol/ketamine (mean±SD of increase, 40±26 beats/min) and non-invasive systolic blood pressure decreased significantly following acepromazine/butorphanol (mean±SD of decrease, 12±19 mmHg). The majority of echocardiographic variables were not significantly different after sedation compared with baseline values. Both sedation protocols resulted in mildly decreased left ventricular end-diastolic dimension and mildly increased left ventricular end-diastolic wall thickness. This study therefore failed to demonstrate clinically meaningful effects of these sedation protocols on echocardiographic measurements, suggesting that sedation with acepromazine, butorphanol and/or ketamine can be used to facilitate echocardiography in healthy cats.
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