Main research focus

The main research focus of our group is pain in animals, which is not only a major issue in clinical veterinary practice but also an important ethical concern for the whole society. We aim at developing objective, valid and reliable tools to evaluate nociceptive physio-pathological processes and pain behaviour and at refining procedures and techniques to improve peri-operative pain treatment in domestic animals. Major areas of interest are:

  • Pain diagnosis: we further characterise the non-invasive neurophysiological model of the Nociceptive Withdrawal Reflex to explore and quantify spinal nociceptive processing in awake or anaesthetised animals by using different noxious stimulations paradigms in several species. For this focus fruitful international collaborations with human pain research experts have been established. Other Quantitative Sensory Testing methods are being explored and validated in several species.
  • Systemic perioperative pain treatment: we provide species-specific neurophysiological and clinical evidence for dose-related antinociceptive and antihyperalgesic effects of several conventional systemic drugs, promoting the understanding of their mechanisms of analgesic action and adopting whenever possible a PK-PD modelling approach. Several drugs like alpha-2 agonists, opioids, ketamine, lidocaine and isoflurane have been investigated in dogs, horses and ruminants.
  • Local analgesia: we optimize methods to provide local analgesia to improve perioperative pain treatment in several species. Among others, the analgesic efficacy of intraarticular, perineural or epidural local anaesthetics and opioids have been tested in orthopaedic surgery models, both in dogs, horses and ruminants. Techniques for ultrasound guided loco-regional blocks are currently under evaluation in several species.

Actual research is focusing on:

  1. establishing new non-invasive models to study behavioural and neurophysiological mechanisms of pain in animals.
  2. assessing the pharmacological profile, clinical efficacy and neurophysiological/neuroendocrine modulation of several antinociceptive treatment strategies like newly developed drugs and implants
  3. investigating the impact of invasive husbandry procedures on the development of acute and chronic pain in farm animals
  4. optimizing short and long term local analgesia techniques using ultrasound and neurostimulation guidance for perineural injections in several animal species