A replacement for methoxyflurane (Metofane) in open-circuit anaesthesia

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28 Scopus citations


Methoxyflurane (Metofane) has been widely used as an open-circuit anaesthetic in small laboratory animals for several decades. Its low vapour pressure and high blood solubility have permitted its use in convenient and simple drop-chamber/nose-cone setups. Recently, following the decision by the primary manufacturer to discontinue production, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain methoxyflurane. We describe here a simple and effective adaptation of isoflurane, an excellent inhalation anaesthetic, to open-circuit drop-chamber/nose-cone anaesthesia. It was found that the vapour concentration of isoflurane could be continuously varied by dissolving the anaesthetic in propylene glycol and that a 20% solution produced effective anaesthesia such that in adult mice, 2 ml of 20% isoflurane in propylene glycol induced anaesthesia within 2 min in a one-litre drop chamber. Furthermore, anaesthesia maintenance with 20% isoflurane was tested in two sets of mice. In one set, surgical plane anaesthesia was maintained for 10 min in a head chamber. After removal of the chamber, the animals awoke within one minute and recovered without any indication of post-anaesthetic distress. The second set contained pregnant mice; here anaesthesia was maintained for between 10 and 12 min, during which laparotomy, exposure of one uterine horn, intrauterine injection and wound closure were completed. The recovery from anaesthesia was also within a minute and with no signs of distress. Healthy litters were delivered after a normal gestation. This isoflurane/propylene glycol procedure is simple, effective and humane, and is a good substitute for methoxyflurane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-285
Number of pages6
JournalLaboratory Animals
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2004


  • Anaesthesia
  • Drop chamber
  • Isoflurane
  • Methoxyflurane
  • Metofane
  • Mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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