Comparative Effects of Plasma and Hetastarch on the Colloid Osmotic Pressure of Alpaca

Comparative Effects of Plasma and Hetastarch on the Colloid Osmotic Pressure of Alpaca

Oregon State University
Erica McKenzie, BSc, BVMS, PhD

(Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) Study Sponsored by ARF)

Results: Research Identifies Economical, Safe Treatment Alternative to Alpaca Plasma Transfusion

Sick alpacas frequently develop low blood-protein concentrations that complicate treatment and recovery. This condition is usually treated by giving a transfusion of llama plasma to the sick animal, but the effects are often short-lived. Previous studies in llamas indicate that hetastarch, a synthetic product, may have a stronger effect and longer duration of action. In addition, it is considerably less expensive than plasma. Researchers from Oregon State University compared equivalent doses of hetastarch with llama plasma and determined that hetastarch provides a safe, effective, convenient and more economical treatment for low blood-protein concentrations in alpacas. Hetastarch increases blood pressure in alpacas more rapidly than does llama plasma, and it has a similar duration of effect. In addition, hetastarch was not associated with any clinically apparent adverse reactions, whereas some of the animals treated with an equivalent volume of plasma displayed mild to severe adverse reactions. Hetastarch can, therefore, provide considerable cost savings for owners whose camelids exhibit low blood-protein concentrations during treatment for significant medical illnesses.

Publication resulting from this work:

Carney KR, McKenzie EC, Mosley CA, Payton ME., Evaluation of the effect of hetastarch and lactated Ringer's solution on plasma colloid osmotic pressure in healthy llamas., J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Mar 15;238(6):768-72. (MAF study supported by ARF)