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What Is Atipamezole?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Atipamezole is a medication originally developed to reverse the effects of some sedatives in animals. Veterinary providers can use it to quickly arouse an animal from sedation or anesthesia, which can reduce risks associated with remaining under sedation once a procedure is over. Research on use of the medication in humans indicates it may also have some cognitive benefits. It could be useful for patients with disorders that limit the ability to focus, complete tasks, and pay attention to specific stimuli.

This medication is an alpha-adrenoreceptor antagonist. It can counteract the effects of an alpha-adrenorecptor agonist used as a sedative to induce a calm state with minimal pain. In veterinary settings, providers often want to wake animals up after procedures to limit the time spent under sedation, which can come with complications like decreased heart rate and respiration. Medications like this can also be used in an emergency when an animal needs to be quickly woken. Reversal agents like atipamezole can be injected to get the animal mobile more quickly.

In addition to potentially reducing complications, this can cut expenses for the clinic. Staff members don’t have to monitor animals as attentively in recovery, and animals can be discharged sooner to make way for more patients. Owners may also appreciate the benefits of a reversal agent, because they can receive a report soon after procedure indicating that the animal is doing well and will be ready to go home soon. Atipamezole cannot be used with all anesthetics and sedatives, but is an option for some cases.

Analgesia can also be reduced with atipamezole, making it important to provide pain management when the drug is administered. This can also be a consideration when handling aggressive animals that may react to pain by biting or scratching. They should receive pain management and be handled with care to avoid falls, drops, and other incidents that might cause a pain spike. Owners may be warned when they come to pick up their animals about the potential for increased sensitivity to pain so they know to be watchful.

Research on the atipamezole for human applications has focused on the potential for patients with cognitive impairments. This includes people with chronic neurological disease as well as brain injuries who have delays in cognition or trouble with tasks like attention. The drug can be used as a stimulant for such patients, and could also potentially counteract some of the adverse cognitive effects of medications used for disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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