Safe Standards for Anesthesia in Veterinary Surgery
A focus of our practice is advanced surgical care, which means some of our procedures can be long and complicated. We feel it is critical, therefore, to provide the most advanced and safest anesthesia for our patients.
Safe, State-of-the-Art Anesthesia
We understand that having your pet go through an anesthetic procedure can be very stressful. Many people have concerns about anesthetic complications, surgical complications, pain and suffering, and anxiety the pet may have while away from home. We will do everything in our power to create a safe surgical experience, while providing the TLC you want and your pet deserves.
Safe anesthesia starts with proper evaluation and preparation of your pet before surgery.
- Pre-operative examination—Prior to administering anesthesia, our veterinarians review patient history, do a physical exam, and develop an anesthesia plan that is individualized to the needs of your pet. Since the patient’s age, breed, level of pain and anxiety, type of surgery to be performed, and current health status all impact anesthesia, we customize a plan that allows for the safest, least stressful, and least painful procedure and recovery.
- Pre-operative laboratory evaluation—Since dogs and cats hide illness very well and some illnesses cannot be identified on physical exam, our veterinarian will suggest pre-operative laboratory tests. We may also suggest radiographs or ultrasound imaging, to ensure the safest procedure possible and to allow for the most knowledge about your pet’s condition prior to going to surgery.
- IV fluids—Every patient undergoing an anesthetic procedure has an intravenous (IV) catheter placed to administer fluids during the procedure. This improves circulation and helps prevent low blood pressure during the surgical procedure. Since many anesthetic agents and perioperative medications are eliminated by the kidneys, IV fluids also help remove the drugs from the body and reduce sluggishness and nausea post-op.
- High-risk patients—For high-risk anesthesia patients, our team meets to discuss the specific individual medical issues and prepare an emergency plan, with all needed drugs and supplies at hand. For example, we may place a central venous catheter in the jugular vein or have blood products available in case of excessive intra-op hemorrhage.
Our surgical suite, anesthesia equipment, and patient monitors are some of the best available.
- Mechanical ventilator—We are the only practice in the region to offer the use of a mechanical ventilator for our gas anesthesia administration. This machine gives the patient a specified amount of oxygen and anesthesia gas at a set respiratory rate and pressure. This reduces the chance that your pet receives too much anesthesia or too little oxygen during the procedure.
- Monitors—We have the most advanced monitoring systems available in veterinary practice. All patients have ECG (heart monitor), heart and respiratory rate, SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation), blood pressure, end tidal CO2 (ensures proper ventilation), and body temperature monitored at all times.
- Advanced anesthesia monitoring—For high-risk anesthesia cases, a central line is placed to monitor central venous pressure. This is a specialized catheter, placed into the vessel just outside the heart. This monitor alerts us to very slight changes in blood pressure, an early indicator of serious complications such as shock, hemorrhage, or congestive heart failure.
Our surgical staff is well trained, and they never leave your pet’s side.
- Our technicians—A Licensed Veterinary Technician, trained in veterinary anesthesia, is with your pet at all times during the anesthesia procedure. Our technicians are highly skilled with many years of experience. They monitor vital parameters with the guidance and supervision of a veterinarian. They also assist the veterinarians with many surgical procedures.
- Our nursing staff—Nursing staff sit with your pet in recovery until they are fully conscious, making sure they are warm and clean. Most patients are placed on a heated bed and snuggled in with warm blankets, to keep them warm and comfortable. Additionally, all of our surgery cases are kept in our central treatment room, enabling us to keep close tabs on their recovery.
- Post-op—At the time of discharge, our staff reviews all post-op restrictions and medications with you, and provides you with written discharge orders. Making sure that you know how to care for your pet after surgery is important to comfort and a successful process.
Watch this AAHA video discussing best practices for pet anesthesia.
Pet Pain Management
Giving our surgical patients the best pain management options available is a top priority at Lucerne Veterinary Hospital. All surgical patients receive pain medication prior to surgery, as the best way to alleviate pain is to stop it before it starts. We also make sure that all patients are discharged with pain medication appropriate for the procedure.
For certain procedures, we may also use more sophisticated pain management techniques:
- Epidurals—To administer pain medication for procedures involving the rear legs, such as cruciate ligament repair or hip surgeries.
- Regional and local nerve blocks—To stop pain at the surgical site directly.
- Constant rate infusions (CRIs)—When pain levels can be especially high, this IV solution containing pain medication is given with an IV pump. Varying levels allow us to adjust the amount of pain medication as needed, to keep the patient comfortable.
- Local diffusion catheters—This catheter is buried in the surgical site, allowing us to infuse local anesthetics continuously.
In most cases where we need to manage pet pain, we use multiple types of drugs and techniques to maximize comfort and safety.