What is Anesthesia?
In the practice of medicine, especially surgery, and dentistry, anesthesia is an induced, temporary state with one or more of the following characteristics: analgesia (relief from pain), paralysis (extreme muscle relaxation), amnesia (loss of memory), and unconsciousness. Anesthesia enables the painless performance of medical procedures that would cause severe or intolerable pain to an awake patient.
What To Expect with Anesthesia
The process for administering anesthesia is unique for each patient. We consider your pet's age, breed, medical history, and current health status to tailor our drugs to provide the safest and fastest anesthesia possible.
Most pets receiving anesthesia at Creekside Veterinary Hospital can expect the following:
Our team will want to make sure your pet is in the best possible condition before surgery and anesthesia. You will be asked important questions about your pet's general health, including whether he or she has had difficulties with anesthesia.
A thorough evaluation of the history, physical condition, and past and current medications of your pet will be completed before preparing an anesthetic plan. The physical exam emphasizes musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and respiratory function to ensure your pet will have the safest anesthetic procedure possible. We will then consider the type and duration of your pet’s procedure and prepare an anesthetic plan. We will use this plan to evaluate, prepare, and conduct the anesthesia administration and recovery of your pet.
Types of Anesthesia
Depending on your pet's treatment and needs, there are several different types of anesthesia your pet may receive:
Preemptive analgesia: Prevention or minimization of pain by the administration of analgesics before the production of pain, to provide a therapeutic intervention in advance of pain.
Local anesthesia: Local anesthesia is the blocking of pain in a specific location of the body, such as a tooth or skin.
Regional anesthesia: Regional anesthesia blocks pain in a larger area of the body, such as the entire lower half of the body. This occurs by blocking nerve impulses between the brain and the specific region of the body.
General anesthesia: General anesthesia renders the patient unconscious, as nerve impulse transmission is inhibited in the brain. This "blocks" pain for the patient throughout the entire body.
Methods of Administration
Anesthetic agents can be administered in several ways:
Anesthesia can be started by an intravenous injection so the patient becomes unconscious rapidly (this is the most common application of anesthesia).
Anesthetic agents may be breathed by your animal until they lose consciousness, called inhalation induction.
In a multimodal approach, we may administer multiple drugs that act by different mechanisms of action to produce the desired analgesic effect.
Whenever your pet is anesthetized in our hospital, there is a board certified veterinarian or highly trained anesthesia technician monitoring your pet's vital signs. We monitor many characteristics of your pet throughout anesthesia administration, including:
- Heart rate and pulse strength
- Capillary refill time
- Mucous membrane color
- Arterial blood pressure (direct and indirect)
- Central venous pressure
- Arterial and venous blood gases
- Body temperature
- Acid-base and electrolyte balance
- Pulse oximetry
Although anesthetics can provide complete pain relief and loss of consciousness during an operation, there are occasionally side effects, such as decreased breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Our team is trained to ensure that these effects are minimized and addressed before they become problematic.
Your Pet's Reactions
Most animals tolerate surgery and anesthesia quite well. Just like their human counterparts, however, animals have natural fears of the unknown. Your composure can be essential and calming to your pet and help them reduce fear and anxiety.
Your Pet's Recovery
Different pets awaken from anesthesia at differing rates. Some animals may be fully alert upon arriving in the recovery area, while others may be groggy for hours after surgery. Although newer drugs and techniques have reduced these side effects, some animals may require a few days to return to normal. If you have any concerns about your pet's recovery, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.