Anesthesia services are offered in Veterinary Referral Associates’ Surgery, Neurology, Emergency/Critical Care, Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, and Diagnostic Imaging departments.
The term anesthesia is the use of medications to produce unconsciousness, analgesia, and immobility. Anesthesia is induced using a variety of injectable and inhaled medications. Veterinary anesthesia is used for procedures that require an unconscious animal; such as surgery, certain imaging studies (MRI, CT scans) or medical procedures.
Before anesthesia, the pet will undergo tests to determine their health status and its impact on anesthesia. This is to better define the degree of risk on the scale recommended by the ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists). Pets are usually restricted from food for 12 hours before anesthesia. Some patients, such as diabetics or neonates, may have alternate fasting requirements; just ask us what is necessary for your pet.
Pets undergoing anesthesia are typically pre-medicated with an injectable drug including benzodiazepines, opioids, and/or alpha-2 adrenergic agonists. This pre-medication helps the pet relax and be less anxious so that anesthesia can be induced smoothly and safely. Induction drugs include propofol, etomidate, alfaxalone, or dissociatives such as ketamine. After the pet receives intravenous medication to cause loss of consciousness, an endotracheal tube is then placed into the pet’s upper airway, and gas anesthesia keeps the pet comfortably anesthetized during the course of the procedure. All pets undergoing anesthesia are carefully monitored before, during and after a procedure by our board certified anesthesiologist and anesthesia trained technicians to ensure the best outcome. At Veterinary Referral Associates, not only do we have a full time anesthesiologist on our team, but we also have top of the line monitoring equipment! Our monitoring capability includes blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation (pulse oximetry), carbon dioxide levels (end-tidal or blood gas values), heart rate and rhythm, and rate of respiration. We can measure blood pressure through arterial catheters and sample blood gases for our critically ill patients.
For all patients, pain management is a priority! We aim to make your pet as comfortable as possible and to prevent/treat chronic pain. We believe this step takes extra care but results in our patients returning to normal function more rapidly. To accomplish our goal, we incorporate a variety of medication before a procedure begins, practice balanced anesthesia using constant rate infusions of multiple analgesics, and can add local anesthetics such as bupivacaine and lidocaine to selected regions. We offer local anesthesia with morphine and bupivacaine epidurals as well as morphine-only epidural analgesia to improve post-operative pain control or for certain procedures, to help decrease the need for other drugs. We maintain patients on constant rate infusions, or intermittent injectable pain medications after surgery, and then wean them onto oral medications that include multi-modal pain management focusing on the COX pathways, opioid receptors, and NMDA receptors.