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Open Access Research article

Effect of 50% and maximal inspired oxygen concentrations on respiratory variables in isoflurane-anesthetized horses

John AE Hubbell1*, Turi K Aarnes1, Richard M Bednarski1, Phillip Lerche1 and William W Muir2

Author Affiliations

1 Deparment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 601 Vernon L. Tharp St., Columbus, OH 43210, USA

2 338 W. 7th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43201, USA

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:23  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-23

Published: 3 June 2011



The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of 0.5 fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) and >0.95 FiO2 on pulmonary gas exchange, shunt fraction and oxygen delivery (DO2) in dorsally recumbent horses during inhalant anesthesia. The use of 0.5 FiO2 has the potential to reduce absorption atelectasis (compared to maximal FiO2) and augment alveolar oxygen (O2) tensions (compared to ambient air) thereby improving gas exchange and DO2. Our hypothesis was that 0.5 FiO2 would reduce ventilation-perfusion mismatching and increase the fraction of pulmonary blood flow that is oxygenated, thus improving arterial oxygen content and DO2.


Arterial partial pressures of O2 were significantly higher than preanesthetic levels at all times during anesthesia in the >0.95 FiO2 group. Arterial partial pressures of O2 did not change from preanesthetic levels in the 0.5 FiO2 group but were significantly lower than in the >0.95 FiO2 group from 15 to 90 min of anesthesia. Alveolar to arterial O2 tension difference was increased significantly in both groups during anesthesia compared to preanesthetic values. The alveolar to arterial O2 tension difference was significantly higher at all times in the >0.95 FiO2 group compared to the 0.5 FiO2 group. Oxygen delivery did not change from preanesthetic values in either group during anesthesia but was significantly lower than preanesthetic values 10 min after anesthesia in the 0.5 FiO2 group. Shunt fraction increased in both groups during anesthesia attaining statistical significance at varying times. Shunt fraction was significantly increased in both groups 10 min after anesthesia but was not different between groups. Alveolar dead space ventilation increased after 3 hr of anesthesia in both groups.


Reducing FiO2 did not change alveolar dead space ventilation or shunt fraction in dorsally recumbent, mechanically ventilated horses during 3 hr of isoflurane anesthesia. Reducing FiO2 in dorsally recumbent isoflurane anesthetized horses does not improve oxygenation or oxygen delivery.