Despite the frequent clinical use of buprenorphine in reptiles, its antinociceptive efficacy is not known. In a randomized, complete cross-over study, the antinociceptive efficacy of buprenorphine (0.2 mg/kg s.c.) was compared with hydromorphone (0.5 mg/kg s.c.), and saline (0.9% s.c. equivalent volume) in 11 healthy red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans). Additionally, buprenorphine at 0.1 and 1 mg/kg was compared with saline in six turtles. Hindlimb withdrawal latencies were measured after exposure to a focal, thermal noxious stimulus before and between 3 hr and up to 96 hr after drug administration. Buprenorphine did not significantly increase hindlimb withdrawal latencies at any time point compared with saline. In contrast, hydromorphone administration at 0.5 mg/kg significantly increased hindlimb withdrawal latencies for up to 24 hr. These results show that hydromorphone, but not buprenorphine, provides thermal antinociception in red-eared slider turtles.
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