An injection of local anaesthetic into the testicles of male cats led to a reduced stress response during the operation. However, the postoperative stress response in cats was not affected by the use of local anaesthetic. Similarly, the choice of sterilisation method did not affect the response in bitches.

Surgery is regularly carried out on cats and dogs, but up until now little has been known about the surgical stress response in these animals. The same response, for example infections and blood clots, has been shown to arise in postoperative complications in humans.

Elena R. Moldal’s doctoral research has studied stress response development after routine surgical operations on cats and dogs. She has focused on changes in physiological parameters during the operation and also on changes in various inflammation markers and in coagulation parameters after the operation. She used new diagnostic tools such as the analysis of heart rate variability and thromboelastography (a blood coagulation efficiency test). The former is used to appraise the activity in the part of the nervous system that is not consciously controlled, while thromboelastography evaluates the process of coagulation from start to finish.

Moldal’s research included two studies involving 42 bitches and 39 male cats. In the first study, the dogs were divided into two groups, of which the bitches in the first group only had their ovaries removed (ovariectomy), while the second group had both their womb and ovaries removed (ovariohysterectomy).

In the second study, the male cats were divided into two groups and both groups were given a full anaesthetic, but the cats in one group were also given a local anaesthetic in their testicles. While the cats were anaesthetized, physiological indicators in the part of the nervous system controlling pain impulses were registered, including pulse, blood pressure and variations in the heart rate. During both studies, blood tests were taken at fixed times up to 28 hours after the operation in order to measure inflammatory markers and different coagulation parameters.

Elena Regine MoldalBased on the results of this doctoral research, the use of local anaesthetic, with Lidocaine as a supplement to a general anaesthetic, can be recommended as a better painkiller for cats during the operation. The postoperative stress response was the same in the bitches, whether only the ovaries or both the ovaries and womb were removed. Neither was there any difference in response between the cats that were given a general anaesthetic and those that were given a local anaesthetic in addition.

Both thromboelastography and the analysis of heart rate variability are useful tools for studying operative stress response in cats and dogs. It is to be hoped that the results of this doctoral project can be used to conduct further experiments on the complications that can arise after cats and dogs undergo surgery.

Elena R. Moldal defended her doctoral research on 14th May 2012 at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NVH) with a thesis entitled:”Characterization of the surgical stress response in dogs and cats”.

Elena R. Moldal comes from Sel in the valley of Gudbrandsdalen. She took a degree at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2003. After qualifying, she worked for two years in a small animal’s clinic before taking up a post at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science’s clinic for small animals in 2005. She began work on her doctorate in 2007, which was carried out at the Department of Domestic Animal Diseases at the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with the Department of Sports and Domestic Animals at NVH and the Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals at the University of Utrecht.

Contact information
Elena R. Moldal
Tel.: +47 59 74 46
Mobile: +47 977 86 039

Magnhild Jenssen, Information Officer at NVH
Tel.: +47 77 66 54 01
Mobile: +47 957 94 830