Anesthesia refers to using medications to create an unconscious patient so that they will not feel any pain or discomfort during surgery or dentistry. Anesthesia will also keep pets from moving, which is required for surgeries, dentistries, some x-ray studies and medical procedures.
Pets undergoing anesthesia are typically pre-medicated with an injectable drug. This pre-medication helps the pet relax so that full anesthesia can be induced more smoothly and safely. Next, the pet receives intravenous medication to cause loss of consciousness. A tube is then placed into the pet's upper airway and gas anesthesia (Isoflurane) keeps the pet comfortably anesthetized during the course of the procedure.
At VCA Front Range Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art anesthesia. On a monthly basis, 150-200 patients receive an anesthetic at our hospital. As a result, not only are our doctors well-trained, they have extensive experience in the successful anesthesia of not just the healthy pet in for a routine procedure, but also the critically ill or injured pet who needs an emergency life-saving procedure. There are many things that we do to maximize the safety of anesthesia of our patients.
We encourage blood tests and EKG of all patients prior to an anesthetic to identify any hidden health conditions that might impact the procedure.
Individualized Anesthetic Plans:
There are a number of medications that can be used when anesthetizing a pet. This variety allows the doctor to create an individualized anesthesia plan for each patient, factoring in that pet’s breed, age, size, general health, pre-existing conditions, the reason for the anesthesia and the results of pre-anesthetic blood work or EKG, if done. Just as each pet is completely unique, no two anesthetic protocols are identical.
It is very important to carefully monitor the patient’s status during the anesthesia. We use electronic monitoring in all our anesthetized patients (tracking blood pressure, blood oxygen concentration, heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and more). More importantly, each patient has a trained assistant who is dedicated to continuously monitoring that patient’s vital signs, reflexes, electronic monitoring data and anesthetic level, and works closely with the doctor and technician involved in the procedure to keep the anesthesia for that pet at the perfect “plane.” The pet remains closely monitored also throughout the anesthetic recovery period.
Patients under anesthesia receive intravenous fluids to support the blood pressure (unless it is a very brief procedure) and circulating warm water pads or Bair Huggars are used, as needed, to keep patients warm during the anesthesia. Anesthetized patients on gas anesthesia are also receiving 100% oxygen when they breathe (room air is only 14%). Additional treatments are implemented as needed to keep the pet’s vital signs at good levels including IV fluid line warmers, drugs to support blood pressure, cardiac function or respirations, and so forth.
It is the combination of these things—pre-anesthetic testing, doctor and staff training and experience, individualized anesthetic plans, continuous in-depth monitoring and patient support methods—that we feel maximizes the safety of anesthesia at VCA Front Range Animal Hospital.