Sea turtles are often restrained manually for brief periods during veterinary evaluation and care in rescue, rehabilitation, research, and aquarium settings. Blood gas values and lactate are routinely evaluated during triage of sea turtles, and lactate clearance is of prognostic significance in cold-stunned individuals. Although increases in blood lactate have been associated with muscle exertion, experimental forced submergence, trawl and pound net capture, and general anesthesia, changes in blood lactate associated with short periods of manual restraint have not been evaluated. Venous blood gas and lactate values were tested in 16 juvenile loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) before and after manual restraint for a 15-min routine veterinary examination. The agreement of blood lactate values between two point-of care analyzers (i-STAT and Lactate Plus) was also compared. Blood pH and bicarbonate (HCO3–) decreased significantly (P < 0.001), and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) increased significantly (P < 0.0001) after 15 min. Lactate increased significantly between time points for both analyzers (P < 0.0001). Linear regression analysis showed excellent correlation for lactate measurements obtained on both analyzers (r = 0.998). The mean difference in lactate concentrations between the analyzers was statistically significant, indicating that the methods cannot be used interchangeably (P < 0.0001). Deming regression and Bland-Altman plots identified a slight negative proportional bias for lactate measurement by the Lactate Plus compared with the i-STAT. These results suggest that clinicians should evaluate blood gas values and lactate at the beginning of health evaluations and interpret serial lactate values in sea turtles with caution, because even short periods of manual restraint can induce lactic acidosis and considerably influence these values.
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