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Drug Residues after Intravenous Anesthesia and Intrathecal Lidocaine Hydrochloride Euthanasia in Horses



Intrathecal lidocaine hydrochloride under general anesthesia has been used as an alternative method of euthanasia in equids. Carnivore, scavenger, and even human consumption of horse meat from carcasses have been anecdotally reported in rural areas after this method of euthanasia. The presence of drug residues in horse meat has not been investigated.


To investigate if drug residues are found in horse tissues and determine their concentrations.


Of 11 horses requiring euthanasia for medical reasons.


Prospective descriptive study. Horses were anesthetized with total IV dose of xylazine (mean, 2.5 mg/kg), midazolam (0.1 mg/kg), and ketamine hydrochloride (mean, 5.8 mg/kg). An atlanto-occipital cisterna centesis for the collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and administration of lidocaine hydrochloride (4 mg/kg) was performed. Blood samples for both serum and plasma, skeletal muscle (triceps brachii, gluteus medius), and CSF were collected for the determination of drug residues. Frozen skeletal muscle available from 5 additional horses that received standard dosages of drugs for short-term anesthesia (xylazine 1.1 mg/kg, midazolam 0.1 mg/kg, and ketamine 2.2 mg/kg) also were analyzed.


Drug residues were found in the tissues of all horses, but at extremely low concentrations.

Conclusions and clinical importance

Euthanasia by administration of lidocaine intrathecally to horses under IV anesthesia poses a low risk of toxicity to carnivores and scavengers that might consume muscle tissue from a carcass in which this protocol has been used.

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