A Comparison of Two Opioid Analgesics for Relief of Visceral Pain Induced by Intestinal Resection in Rats

Melanie B. Gillingham, Melanee D. Clark, Elizabeth M. Dahly, Lisa A. Krugner-Higby, Denise M. Ney

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39 Scopus citations


While developing a rat model for human short bowel syndrome, we noted that untreated rats as well as rats administered buprenorphine after intestinal resection exhibited behavior and appearance consistent with visceral pain and distress. To provide appropriate analgesics, we developed criteria to assess pain-related behavioral changes and conducted an experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of buprenorphine versus oxymorphone to alleviate the pain induced by intestinal resection. Rats underwent either small-bowel resection or transaction surgery; in addition, animals received jugular catheterization for the delivery of total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Rats treated with buprenorphine received 0.5 mg/kg every 6 h subcutaneously, and rats treated with oxymorphone received 0.03 mg/kg hourly for 32 h via continuous intravenous (i.v.) infusion with TPN solution. Rats treated with buprenorphine exhibited behavior and appearance consistent with pain and distress for as long as 32 h postoperatively, whereas animals treated with oxymorphone exhibited behavior and appearance similar to their preoperative state. Thus, oxymorphone alleviated the pain-related behavioral changes after intestinal resection far better than did buprenorphine. Of interest, we observed that the buprenorphine was associated with a decrease in the volume of urine collected, whereas oxymorphone was associated with urine volumes similar to those of nonresected rats maintained with TPN. Because oxymorphone appeared to be a superior analgesic, we also evaluated three routes for administering this drug. Pain-related behavior changes were alleviated by the administration of oxymorphone by either Alzet mini-pump, bolus i.v. injection, or continuous i.v. infusion. We conclude that compared with buprenorphine, oxymorphone is a superior analgesic for the alleviation of visceral pain due to intestinal resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalContemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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