It’s common practice to apply corn syrup to the oral mucosa of kittens after pediatric surgery. The ASV spay/neuter guidelines state that this practice “may” be beneficial. but up until now we haven’t really known if it is or isn’t. Logically, kittens would seem to be at risk of hypoglycemia after a period of fasting, and corn syrup could protect them from this potentially life-threatening complication. So far so good.
However, a recent study provided no support for the practice. The study included 75 kittens aged 8-16 weeks, that were spayed or neutered at a shelter. The kittens were fasted overnight before the surgery. They were randomized to a corn syrup group (corn syrup applied to the oral mucosa post-operatively) and control group (no corn syrup). Blood glucose was measured before sedation, immediately after surgery and 20 minutes post-op. The method of application of corn syrup (Q-tip), anesthetic (DKT) and glucose measurement (Alphatrak glucometer) closely paralleled common shelter methods.
Hypoglycemia was not found pre-or post-operatively in the kittens – in fact, just over half of the kittens were hyperglycemic 20 minutes post-op, possibly because of dexdomitor, stress and surgical trauma. Importantly, no individual kitten was hypoglycemic during the study, so the lack of hypoglycemia wasn’t just an average. There was no statistical difference between the corn syrup and control group for post-operative blood glucose levels. In the discussion, the authors comment that post-operative hyperglycemia is detrimental in human patients, so successfully increasing blood glucose in post-operative kittens could potentially have negative effects.
Here’s what’s interesting about this study:
- It challenges an accepted wisdom
- Hypoglycemia wasn’t found in 75 kittens that were fasted overnight, even though this was a longer fasting period than the recommended 2-4 hour fast
- Corn syrup didn’t change the blood glucose of the treated kittens
So what do we do with this information? Should we stop giving corn syrup because it appears to be unnecessary and ineffective and could (maybe) be detrimental? Or do we continue because this is only one study, we hope the corn syrup could help an unrecognized hypoglycemic kitten that might otherwise be missed, and it’s current standard practice?
- Cornell HN et al. Effect of transmucosal corn syrup application on postoperative blood glucose concentrations in kittens. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 19(4): 370-374, first published online at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1098612X17705537