Immobilisation of impala (Aepyceros melampus) with a ketamine hydrochloride/medetomidine hydrochloride combination, and reversal with atipamezole hydrochloride

M. Bush, J. P. Raath, L. G. Phillips, W. Lance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A combination of medetomidine hydrochloride (medetomidine) and ketamine hydrochloride (ketamine) was evaluated in 16 boma-confined and 19 free-ranging impalas (Aepyceros melampus) to develop a non-opiate immobilisation protocol. In free-ranging impala a dose of 220 ± 34 μg/kg medetomidine and 4.4 ± 0.7 mg/kg ketamine combined with 7500 IU of hyaluronidase induced recumbency within 4.5 ± 1.5 min, with good muscle relaxation, a stable heart rate and blood pH. PaCO2 was maintained within acceptable ranges. The animals were hypoxic with reduced oxygen saturation and low PaO2 in the presence of an elevated respiration rate, therefore methods for respiratory support are indicated. The depth of sedation was adequate for minor manipulations but additional anaesthesia is indicated for painful manipulations. Immobilisation was reversed by 467 ± 108 μg/kg atipamezole hydrochloride (atipamezole) intramuscularly, but re-sedation was observed several hours later, possibly due to a low atipamezole:medetomidine ratio of 2:1. Therefore, this immobilisation and reversal protocol would subject impalas to possible predation or conspecific aggression following reversal if they were released into the wild. If the protocol is used on free-ranging impala, an atipamezole:medetomidine ratio of 5:1 should probably be used to prevent re-sedation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-18
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the South African Veterinary Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes



  • α agonist
  • α antagonist
  • Aepyceros melampus
  • Atipamezole hydrochloride
  • Blood gases
  • Hyaluronidase
  • Impala
  • Ketamine hydrochloride
  • Medetomidine hydrochloride
  • Oxygen saturation
  • Piloerection
  • Re-sedation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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