This study used electrical impedance tomography (EIT) measurements of regional ventilation and perfusion to elucidate the reasons for severe gas exchange impairment reported in rhinoceroses during opioid-induced immobilization. EIT values were compared with standard monitoring parameters to establish a new monitoring tool for conservational immobilization and future treatment options. Six male white rhinoceroses were immobilized using etorphine, and EIT ventilation variables, venous admixture, and dead space were measured 30, 40, and 50 min after becoming recumbent in lateral position. Pulmonary perfusion mapping using impedance-enhanced EIT was performed at the end of the study period. The measured impedance (∆Z) by EIT was compared between pulmonary regions using mixed linear models. Measurements of regional ventilation and perfusion revealed a pronounced disproportional shift of ventilation and perfusion toward the nondependent lung. Overall, the dependent lung was minimally ventilated and perfused, but remained aerated with minimal detectable lung collapse. Perfusion was found primarily around the hilum of the nondependent lung and was minimal in the periphery of the nondependent and the entire dependent lung. These shifts can explain the high amount of venous admixture and physiological dead space found in this study. Breath holding redistributed ventilation toward dependent and ventral lung areas. The findings of this study reveal important pathophysiological insights into the changes in lung ventilation and perfusion during immobilization of white rhinoceroses. These novel insights might induce a search for better therapeutic options and is establishing EIT as a promising monitoring tool for large animals in the field.<b>NEW & NOTEWORTHY</b> Electrical impedance tomography measurements of regional ventilation and perfusion applied to etorphine-immobilized white rhinoceroses in lateral recumbency revealed a pronounced disproportional shift of the measured ventilation and perfusion toward the nondependent lung. The dependent lung was minimally ventilated and perfused, but still aerated. Perfusion was found primarily around the hilum of the nondependent lung. These shifts can explain the gas exchange impairments found in this study. Breath holding can redistribute ventilation.
J Appl Physiol (1985) (Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985))
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