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PICO question

In horses undergoing general anaesthesia, does assistance with ropes result in better recoveries when compared to no assistance (‘free’ recovery)?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

One randomised, non-blinded controlled trial and two retrospective cohort studies

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

The three studies reviewed arrive at different conclusions regarding the utility of rope assistance in recovery from general anaesthesia in horses, but examine very different populations. The randomised controlled trial provides weak evidence that rope assistance can shorten recovery and improve recovery quality in healthy (American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) I–II) horses. One retrospective cohort study provides weak evidence that rope assistance confers a reduction in fatality in both healthy and sick horses. The other retrospective cohort study provides weak evidence that rope assistance confers no benefit to horses undergoing emergency colic surgery. Both assisted and unassisted groups in each study had fatalities and all studies reported complications related to the rope recovery system


Insufficient evidence is available to permit a full recommendation regarding rope assistance during recovery from general anaesthesia in horses. Rope assistance may improve recovery time and quality in some horses. The decision to perform a rope-assisted recovery must be made considering individual patient, team and clinic factors. Rope assistance cannot prevent fatalities in recovery


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Open Access Peer Reviewed