Isoflurane anesthesia in the African
clawed frog (Xenopus laevis)

Smith JM, Stump KC.
Program of Comparative Medicine,
University of Maryland School of Medicine,
Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.
Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci. 2000 Nov;39(6):39-42.


Isoflurane is one of the safest and most accepted anesthetic agents for reptiles, birds, and mammals. It has also been used in terrestrial amphibians. The use of inhalation agents in an entirely aquatic frog presents a new dilemma for delivery in contrast to terrestrial species. The African Clawed Frog respires by using both transcutaneous gas exchange and air breathing. These frogs remain submerged for long periods of time, thus making standard inhalation techniques impractical. We tested five methods for delivering isoflurane: 1) bubbling isoflurane and oxygen in the water, 2) intracoelomic injection, 3) subcutaneous injection, 4) intramuscular injection, and 5) topical application. For the topical application, we developed a simple technique by using an absorptive pad with a vapor-barrier backing, saturating the pad with the liquid isoflurane, and placing the pad on the back of the frog while it was confined in a plastic bowl. Although two of the three injectable routes induced anesthesia, only the topical route produced rapid induction with consistent, safe recovery. Bubbling isoflurane with oxygen into water was unsuccessful. Topical application of isoflurane was most successful and appears to be a safe and practical method that can be used as an alternative to tricaine methylsulphonate, hypothermia, or other methods for anesthetizing African Clawed Frogs.
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