Anesthesia and Patient Monitoring

The types of anesthesia used and patient monitoring techniques varies greatly among veterinary hospitals. When choosing your pet’s surgical facility, be sure to question the types of anesthetics used and the protocols in which they monitor anesthesia. More often than not, the more expensive anesthestics are safest to use, but anesthetics are also chosen for other reasons such as their ability to control pain. Different types of anesthetics are:

1. Tranquilization/Sedation

Tranquilization or sedation is used to calm an animal under various conditions. The animal is usually awake or may sleep, but is easily aroused when stimulated. Pet owners frequently request sedation for their animals during travel, thuderstorms, or fireworks. Sedation and tranquilization are not without risk and each individual patient needs to be assessed prior to dispensing these medications.

2. General Anesthesia

A general anesthetic results in a loss of consciousness in the animal and a loss of sensation throughout the entire body. Most general anesthetic procedures involve several steps beginning with the administration of a sedative. An intravenous injection of an anesthetic renders the animal unconscious while a breathing tube is placed into the animal’s trachea. A gas anesthetic is delivered in combination with oxygen to the animal via the breathing tube to maintain the state of unconsciousness. Although general anesthetics are significantly safer than they have been in the past, there is still the remote chance of an anesthetic accident. There are many ways to reduce the risk associated with anesthesia including a thorough physical examination and pre-surgical blood work. Anesthetic monitoring equipment and protocol can also contribute to a safer anesthesia.

Patient Monitoring
During anesthesia, our patient’s vital signs are monitored closely by a veterinary nurse. Your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate, capillary refill time, blood pressure, EKG, and temperature are charted and recorded every five minutes. A change in blood pressure is an early indication of a likely problem. Monitoring our patient’s vital signs so closely during anesthesia allows early intervention on our part and prevents anesthetic risks to your pet.