We utilize the safest available anesthetics to provide an extra margin of safety, especially for our older or high-risk patients. Using the most modern equipment, the patient’s vital signs are monitored during all anesthetic procedures.
There are many types of anesthetic regimes including the use of drugs that are injected into a vein or muscle or inhalant drugs that are breathed in and out of the body. Your veterinarian will select the anesthetic regime based on the health of your pet and on the type of surgical procedure to be performed.
An IV catheter is the patient’s lifeline while (s)he is under the effects of general anesthesia. Through the IV catheter your veterinarian will have ready access to your pet’s blood stream to administer fluids and other drugs during surgery.
General anesthesia is often begun by giving a short-acting anesthetic agent IV. As soon as the pet loses consciousness, a soft plastic tube (endotracheal tube or ET tube) is inserted into the windpipe and is connected to an anesthesia machine. The anesthesia machine is used to deliver an inhalant anesthetic in oxygen and other gases. Many anesthetic drugs can depress breathing; having an ET tube in place allows the veterinarian to assist or control breathing if it becomes necessary. The loss of consciousness that occurs during anesthesia is often accompanied by loss of the ability to cough and gag. In awake animals, coughing and gagging are protective reflexes which prevent inhaling stomach contents or other foreign materials into the lungs. Insertion of a proper size ET tube prevents inhalation of stomach contents into the airways and lungs during anesthesia.
There are several methods by which the pet’s response to anesthesia and surgery can be monitored during the procedure. Close monitoring during anesthesia allows for early recognition and correction of problems. Vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure can be monitored using specialized devices.
The animal’s depth of anesthesia is determined by evaluating reflexes, muscle tone, and response of vital signs to surgical stimulation. If an animal is judged to be too light for the surgical procedure being performed, an increased amount of anesthetic is administered. Conversely, if the patient is judged to be in an excessively deep plane of anesthesia, the amount of anesthetic administered is decreased.
At the completion of the surgical procedure, the concentration of the anesthetic that the animal is breathing is reduced and the animal slowly regains consciousness. When the pet regains its swallowing reflexes, the ET tube is removed and the patient is monitored until it is fully conscious.
The Perfect Anesthetic Drug
Probably, the most desirable general anesthetic is the one your veterinarian is most familiar with. There are a great many anesthetic drugs available to today’s practicing veterinarian, however most practitioners use a few carefully chosen anesthetics with which they have the most experience and the most confidence. Your veterinarian’s experience in the use of a certain anesthetic drug often will more than offset one or two undesirable properties of a general anesthetic agent.