& Management / Disease
Investigation & Management / Techniques:
- Anaesthetise the rabbit. See: Treatment and Care
- Anaesthesia and Chemical Restraint
- Place the rabbit in dorsal recumbency.
- Shave and disinfect the skin over the larynx (approximately 3 cm
- On the left side of the neck, 5 mm from the midline and just
anterior to the larynx, make a 1 cm incision.
- Pass a tube through the mouth into the oesophagus and down to the
- A catheter stiffened by a guide wire is suitable. (J495.38.w1)
- Once the catheter is in place, remove the guide wire. (J495.38.w1)
- Hold the rabbit's mouth open with tapes over the upper and lower
- Grasp the tube with artery forceps through the rabbit's mouth so the
tip of the forceps is in the pharynx; push the tube against the wall
of the pharynx, creating a visible bulge under the skin incision.
- Incise the muscle over the bulge carefully with a small scalpel
blade; use the hard tip of the artery
forceps as a guide.
- Incise the pharyngeal wall.
- Bring the oral end of the tube out through the incision.
- Draw about 10 cm of tube out through the incision.
- Place an anchoring cuff on the tube close to the body.
- Place the guide wire into the tube to maintain the tube's diameter
- Anchor the tube at the incision by suturing:
- Place a purse string suture round the catheter proximal to the
cuff, closing the incision in the pharyngeal wall.
- Place a second suture just distal to the cuff
- Make a tunnel through the subcutaneous tissues to the base of the
ear by blunt dissection with straight artery forceps.
- Swab the tube with ethanol.
- Run the tube up through the tunnel to exit the skin through an
incision at the base of the left ear.
- Anchor the tube with a mattress suture.
- Trim the tube to provide only about 1 cm protruding from the skin.
- Fit a 1.2 mm plastic Luer stub adaptor with cap closure.
|Appropriate Use (?)
- To allow daily dosing or feeding if food, fluids or medication
cannot be given orally or cannot be given without the animal suffering
- Dosing can be carried out easily by a single person and without
removing the rabbit from its cage. (J495.38.w1)
- No problems were noted in eating, drinking or weight gain when a
tube was placed in more than 40 rabbits. (J495.38.w1)
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- If the pharyngostomy incision is too far lateral the carotid artery
or jugular vein may be severed causing fatal haemorrhage.
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
Equipment for anaesthesia.
Catheter, 1.2 mm plastic Luer stub adaptor with cap closure.,
guide wire, suture material, scalpel and artery forceps.
|Expertise level / Ease of Use
- This procedure should only be
carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical
- It is recommended that anyone intending to perform this procedure
first performs a dissection to ensure familiarity with the local
- Infection can develop along the subcutaneous tunnel; this is not
common (two of more than 40 rabbits in a study group). (J495.38.w1)
||Costs are those associated
with anaesthetic, personnel time and consumables.
|Legal and Ethical Considerations
In some countries there may be
legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For
example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides,
subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of
Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1
- RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of
Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
||Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD
|| Tiffany Blackett BVetMed MRCVS (V.w44)