Acute pain responses in dairy calves undergoing cornual nerve blocks with or without topical anesthetic.J Dairy Sci 2019; 102(4):3431-3438JD
Dairy calves are routinely administered medicines, vaccines, and anesthesia via injection. Although injections are painful, little is known about methods to alleviate this pain. The aim of this study was to determine whether lidocaine-prilocaine cream, a topical anesthetic, reduced calves' pain response to a subcutaneous injection around the cornual nerve. Calves were assigned 1 of 2 treatments: lidocaine-prilocaine cream at the sites of injection (n = 10) or no cream (n = 9). Thirty minutes after treatment, calves received a subcutaneous injection of 2% buffered lidocaine hydrochloride around the left and right cornual nerves. Contrary to our hypothesis, calves that received anesthetic cream beforehand displayed more escape behaviors during the injections than control calves. Both treatments had similarly low amounts of head-related behaviors afterward. Maximum eye temperature did not differ between the calves that received anesthetic cream and control calves, although eye temperature increased over time for both treatments. Heart rate increased during the 30 s following the first injection in both treatments. There were no treatment differences for any heart rate measures over the 5-min period after the first injection (mean heart rate, root mean square of successive differences, high-frequency power, and the ratio of low-frequency power to high-frequency power). These results suggest that cornual nerve blocks with buffered lidocaine are painful and that a lidocaine-prilocaine cream was not only ineffective in reducing this pain but that it may also worsen it.