If you are curious about what is really involved with a general anesthetic for your pet, here is a great opportunity to see for yourself! Just scroll through the images below where we’ve described the steps we take to make sure your pet’s general anesthetic and surgery are as safe and comfortable as possible. We would like to say a big “thank you” to our very generous client who allowed her beautiful little cat to appear in the following pictures. She was a wonderful patient!
**You can click on each picture to see a larger image**
After giving a sedative and pain medication (called a pre-medication), we place an IV catheter. The IV allows us to administer fluids directly into the vein to manage blood pressure under anesthetic, administer pain medication and emergency drugs if necesssary. You can see we hook the IV fluid line up to a pump to make sure that your pet recieves an exact amount of fluids per minute. This rate can be adjusted easily under anesthetic. We also heat up some oat bags (seen beside this little kitty) and sit your pet on a soft blanket or towel to make sure they don’t get cold before going under anesthetic.
Next we give what is called an “induction agent”. This is a medication that is given directly into the vein, through the IV line. After this is given, your pet will be completely unconcious, or “anesthetized”. During this time, a veterinarian will be listening to the heart to make sure everything is going well. It takes some time to get all of the monitoring equipment hooked up so it’s important to have a veterinarian monitoring before this time.
After your pet is completely anesthetized we place what is called an endotracheal tube. This is placed down the main airway and is used to deliver oxygen and gas anesthetic. The injectable anesthetic (or “induction agent”) doesn’t last very long so we need another way of keeping your pet anesthetized during surgery. The endotracheal tube also makes for a safer general anesthetic so we have control over the airway and can deliver oxygen. The gas anesthetic machines are designed so that we cannot deliver gas anesthetic without delivering oxygen at the same time. The induction and recovery (in other words the start and end) of the anesthetic are considered to be the highest risk times. As you can see, a veterinarian will be continually listening to your pet’s heart during the induction phase.
Once we have the gas anesthetic machine hooked up to the endotracheal tube, we prepare the area for surgery. You can see the green tube in the picture delivering oxygen and gas anesthetic. We remove any fur with clippers and then clean the surgical area with a 3-step prep. Your pet is now ready to be transferred into the surgical suite.
Once we move your pet into the surgical suite, we immediately attach all of the anesthetic monitoring equipment. The screen on the right of the photograph is called the Cardell, and this measures blood pressure, heart rate, ECG, exhaled carbon dioxide, oxygen saturation in the blood, and temperature. The black box on the end of the table is called a Doppler, and is another method of measuring blood pressure. The probe is placed directly beside a small vessel on the foot and each pulsation results in a noise so we can “hear” the heart rate during the entire procedure. The blue mat on the table is a circulating hot water pad to keep your pet warm while under a general anesthetic. You can see the oat bags are used in the surgery room as well.
At the end of surgery, we turn off the gas anesthetic but leave the oxygen running for an additional 5-10 minutes. Once your pet regains thier swallowing reflex, we remove the endotracheal tube, but continue to monitor very closely while they regain consiousness. As you can see this sweet little cat was up and ready to go home within 1/2 hour of completion of anesthetic. We keep the IV fluids running until the afternoon to ensure proper hydration and as a way of delivering additional doses of pain medication.
When your pet is ready to go home at the end of the day, we schedule a discharge appointment with the doctor to discuss any medications to be given at home and additional instructions. We will always call the following day to check in and make sure our patients are recovering well, but encourage our clients to call sooner if there are any concerns.