Anesthesia is usually more worrisome to pet owners than the surgical procedure itself. There are a number of factors that affect a patient’s anesthetic outcome; the health of the patient; the agents used to induce/maintain anesthesia/analgesia; the duration of the procedure; the experience and expertise of the team member monitoring the patient; and having a team member who is not “multi-tasking” during anesthesia. We address all of these areas and will take every precaution to make sure that your pet’s anesthesia is safe and predictable.
Health of the Patient:
Prior to an anesthetic procedure, all patients are thoroughly examined by the surgeon. For most procedures we will recommend lab work based on your pet’s age. For our older patients we recommend a CBC (complete blood count), total body blood chemistry, and urinalysis. Abnormal values in any of these laboratory tests will shape what anesthetics/analgesics we use. The doctor may also recommend chest radiographs if your pet has had a history of heart or lung disease or a potentially cancerous mass. Pets that are truly high risk due to disease processes such as heart disease, renal failure, diabetes etc. can still undergo anesthesia. We may ask you to do additional testing like an echocardiogram or abdominal ultrasound or even have a boarded anesthesiologist come in for the procedure.
At VSCP we use a multimodal approach to anesthesia and analgesia. We use a number of drugs in combination to maximize effectiveness and to minimize side effects. Every patient receives medications for pain that lowers the amount of anesthesia needed for the procedure. Many times these medications are given on a continuous drip during the surgery. We also use local anesthetics like epidurals and nerve blocks to maximize a pet’s comfort while reducing the amount of anesthesia and analgesia used during and postoperatively. The anesthesia and analgesia agents used at VSCP are the same drugs that are used in human hospitals.
The VSCP family includes 10 Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVT). A CVT is a licensed individual who has completed an AVMA accredited veterinary technician program and passed the Veterinary National Technician Exam (VNTE). CVTs are required to complete 15 hours of continuing education every 2 years and relicense annually. At VSCP, every patient has at least 2 CVT’s in the room during their surgical procedure. One of the CVTs is the Anesthetic Technician and one is the Scrub Technician. Some procedures, like a total hip replacement, have 2 Scrub and 1 Instrument Technician (4 Technicians total).
The Anesthetic Technician’s sole job is to monitor your pet throughout the entire surgical procedure. Many of our patients are placed on a ventilator to ensure adequate respiration while they are anesthetized. The CVT will use monitoring equipment to follow your pet’s ECG (electrocardiogram-heart rhythm), heart rate, amount of oxygen in the blood, blood pressure, amount of C02 your pet is exhaling, and body temperature. They will also continuously monitor the plane/depth of anesthesia and make adjustments accordingly. Having a highly skilled, licensed, and dedicated team member responsible for anesthesia ensures that your pet will be as safe as possible and any problems are quickly identified and addressed.
The surgeons at VSCP may recommend a Veterinary Anesthesiologist manage your pet during their surgical procedure. We routinely consult with Dr. Heidi Shafford, DACVA and Dr. Pam Fulkerson, DACVA. Click here for more information on their services.