Anesthesia Safety

Many pet owners are apprehensive about anesthesia. While it is true that there are inherent risks involved, there is much that can be done to diminish them. We meet or exceed the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists’ monitoring guidelines. A trained veterinary assistant is with your pet from the moment he or she is anesthetized, until the moment they are fully recovered, as well as in the post-operative period. We continuously monitor vital signs, as well as other parameters such as blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and carbon dioxide levels, using the most up to date technology. The information obtained allows us to maintain the depth of anesthesia at a safe level and to detect early on, any problems that might be arising.

All of our patients have an indwelling intravenous catheter placed prior to surgery. This not only allows us to administer intravenous fluids to help maintain normal blood pressure, but also enables us to give drugs quickly in case of emergencies. Occasionally an animal has persistent low blood pressure (which can damage the kidneys) that does not respond to the usual treatments. In such cases, we have an infusion pump that allows us to give a CRI (constant rate infusion) of dopamine, a very effective drug for not only raising the blood pressure but strengthening the heart as well.

An often overlooked aspect of anesthetic safety is the role of pain management. The appropriate combination of pain medication and sedatives allows us to keep our patients at a lighter, safer level of anesthesia. It also ensures a smoother transition from the conscious to the unconscious state, as well as a smoother less painful recovery. We use many of the pain management protocols that are used at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana. These include medications such as Schedule II narcotics which are the most potent pain medications available. This class of drugs is not used in all veterinary practices. All patients are monitored following recovery and given additional pain medication and/or sedation if needed.

A final note regarding common anesthetic protocols used for cats: some practices still employ a drug called ketamine. This drug is usually injected into the muscles which is extremely painful. Agitation during recovery is not uncommon with this medication. We want to assure you that we do not use this method of inducing anesthesia in our feline patients.

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