Here are some questions you may want to consider before your pet undergoes anesthesia for any reason. We recommend you ask for the details and a hospital tour before booking elective surgery and procedures for your pet.
1. What preanesthesia evaluation should my pet have prior to surgery?
- A physical examination is the first line of defense against unforeseen troubles when performing surgery on an animal that may have infectious disease, a heart murmur, or be debilitated from parasites.
- A pre-anesthesia blood test can detect hidden problems that could cause serious complications when the pet is under anesthesia or in surgery.
2. What safety precautions should be taken with my pet during surgery?
- An IV catheter should be placed prior to anesthesia induction. The IV catheter is our port for providing emergency drugs if an unexpected situation should arise.
- IV fluids should be administered to help maintain blood pressure, and provide internal organ support.
- A breathing tube (endotracheal tube) should be placed in all anesthetized animals. This keeps the airway open and allows for supplemental oxygen or gas anesthesia as needed. This tube is also very important in preventing aspiration into the lungs if a pet vomits or otherwise has excess fluids/materials in its mouth. If aspiration occurs, it can cause serious pneumonia.
- Your pet should be continually monitored by a dedicated and trained surgical technician.
- A variety of surgical monitors is a definite plus. (See End Note # 1)
3. What safety precautions and comfort measures will be taken?
- Anesthesia and surgery patients lose body heat through anesthesia and the opening of body cavities. Warmth should be provided during and after anesthesia. Patient temperature should be monitored at regular intervals after surgery and supplemental heating provided as needed.
- Your pet’s gum color, pulse, and respiration should be closely monitored.
- The IV fluids should be warmed to body temperature, and blankets should be used to reduce heat loss. (See End Note # 2)
4. How will pain be controlled for my pet?
- This is very important – surgery can hurt! A lot!
- Pain control measures should be taken before, during and after surgery. (See End Note # 3)
5. Will I receive written post-surgical care instructions for my pet?
- Aftercare of surgical patients is very important for proper healing of the surgical patient.
- The hospital should provide clear, written discharge instructions for your pet. (See End Note # 4)
# 1) *** At SVS, an RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician) monitors the patient throughout the entire anesthetic period from induction to recovery. Veterinary practices are not required by law to have RVTs on staff, but at SVS, we know that RVTs are the best persons equipped to monitor anesthesia while the veterinarian is performing surgery. If I had to pick just one “tool” to monitor anesthesia while I perform surgery, I would not select the capnograph, the BP monitor, the pulse-oximeter or the EKG machine we have at our disposal; I would select one of the 4 experienced RVTs we have on staff at SVS. Some facilities do not have RVTs on staff, and rely on the observations of untrained staff members, or the veterinarian attempts to monitor the anesthesia him/herself, while attempting to perform your pet’s surgery safely.
# 2) *** At SVS, we use a patient warming system called a Bair Hugger to support the patient’s temperature during anesthesia.
# 3) *** At SVS, we are firm believers in the use of potent, effective, and above all, safe pain control drugs and methods. We extensively use multi-modal approaches to pain control in our surgical patients.
# 4) *** At SVS, not only will you receive written post-surgery instructions, but the discharge instructions will be discussed with you either by the veterinarian or one of the RVTs at the time of your pet’s discharge.