Anesthesia and Patient Monitoring
Anaesthesia and patient monitoring varies greatly among clinics. When you choose your veterinarian, be sure to question the types of anaesthetics used and the protocols for monitoring anaesthesia. Often the more expensive anaesthetics are safer to use; however, anaesthetics are also chosen for other reasons including their ability to control pain. No anaesthetic is without risk. Our job is to minimize that risk by carefully evaluating each patient's condition, reason for anaesthesia and its expected duration, the anticipated level of pain, before during and after the procedure and by choosing drugs and doses which are best for each individual. A complete physical exam, and pre-anaesthetic blood work are the first steps. Each patient receives pre-anaesthetic sedation and pain control to calm them and smooth the transition to anaesthesia. An intravenous catheter is placed in a vein in the front leg after sedation. This will give us immediate access to a vein in the case of an emergency, and allows us to administer intravenous fluids during and after the procedure. These fluids help to maintain their hydration and blood pressure and to help flush the anaesthetic drugs from their system for a crisper recovery with less hangover effect. Anaesthesia is induced with injectable drugs given through the catheter. As soon as the anaesthetic is deep enough, generally within a few minutes, an endotracheal tube is place into their trachea (windpipe) and they are maintained with inhalant gas anaesthetic and oxygen administered through this tube. The inhalant drugs allow us to control the depth of anaesthesia quickly to keep them as light as possible for the procedure. Analgesics (pain medication) are chosen based on the degree of pain in the pro-op period, and the duration of pain anticipated with the procedure, whether that be a dental cleaning with little or no anticipated pain, or a major orthopedic procedure such as a fracture repair. In most instances, patients in for a routine procedure such as spay or neuter will be admitted between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. and their anaesthetic and procedure will be done in the morning. They will be eating and out to relieve themselves by 2:00 pm and discharged to their owner at 3:30 p.m.