Effects of common anesthetics on eye movement and electroretinogram

Govind Nair, Moon Kim, Tsukasa Nagaoka, Darin E. Olson, Peter M. Thulé, MacHelle T. Pardue, Timothy Q. Duong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides non-invasive images of retinal anatomy, physiology, and function with depth-resolved laminar resolution. Eye movement and drift, however, could limit high spatial resolution imaging, and anesthetics that minimize eye movement could significantly attenuate retinal function. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal anesthetic preparations to minimize eye movement and maximize visual-evoked retinal response in rats. Eye movements were examined by imaging of the cornea with a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera under isoflurane, urethane, ketamine/xylazine, and propofol anesthesia at typical dosages in rats. Combination of the paralytic pancuronium bromide with isoflurane or ketamine/xylazine anesthesia was also examined for the eye movement studies. Visual-evoked retinal responses were evaluated using full-field electroretinography (ERG) under isoflurane, ketamine/xylazine, urethane, and ketamine/xylazine + pancuronium anesthesia in rats. The degree of eye movement, measured as displacement per unit time, was the smallest under 1% isoflurane + pancuronium anesthesia. The ketamine/xylazine groups showed larger dark-adapted ERG a- and b-waves than other anesthetics tested. The isoflurane group showed the shortest b-wave implicit times. Photopic ERGs in the ketamine/xylazine groups showed the largest b-waves with the isoflurane group showing slightly shorter implicit times at the higher flash intensities. Oscillatory potentials revealed an early peak in the isoflurane group compared with ketamine/xylazine and urethane groups. Pancuronium did not affect the a- and b-wave, but did increase oscillatory potential amplitudes. Compared with the other anesthetics tested here, ketamine/xylazine + pancuronium was the best combination to minimize eye movement and maximize retinal function. These findings should set the stage for further development and application of high-resolution functional imaging techniques, such as MRI, to study retinal anatomy, physiology, and function in anesthetized rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-176
Number of pages14
JournalDocumenta Ophthalmologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • ERG
  • Eye movement
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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