In order to minimise the risks and complications of a general anaesthetic, we perform a full physical examination of your pet. However we highly recommend a pre anaesthetic blood test, at an additional fee, to identify any pre-existing problems that may not be evident physically but may potentially lead to complications. Although all pets could benefit from this test, we would especially recommend it for those pets over 8 years of age, or who seem to have an increased thirst. The test checks for kidney function, liver damage and glucose levels and so helps us to ensure that your pet's organs are healthy and there are no hidden problems that could put your pet at risk. If the results are within the normal range we can proceed with confidence, knowing the anaesthetic risk is minimised.

If results are not within the normal ranges, we can alter the anaesthetic procedure, reduce drug dosages, use intravenous fluids and take other precautions to safeguard your pet's health and reduce the risk of complications. We will contact you if the pre operative blood results are abnormal.

catdrip.jpgAnother way of improving your pets health under anaesthetic is intravenous fluids. By putting your pet "on a drip", we can help to reduce the fall in blood pressure that often occurs during an anaesthetic. Fluids are especially recommended in long surgeries, or those where there is the potential for bleeding. If your pet is dehydrated or has an underlying condition such as chronic renal disease we may recommend fluids for a twenty four hour period prior to surgery to give your pet the best possible chance of a successful anaesthetic.

The Pre Med

There are a number of drugs that can be used in putting an animal under

general anaesthetic and keeping them asleep. There are three main parts to any anaesthetic - the pre-medication, the induction, and the maintenance. The pre med is usually an injection given to your pet 30-60 minutes before the anaesthetic. For most healthy dogs and cats it usually contains a pain killer such as buprenorphine, and a sedative such as ACP (acepromazine). It helps the animal to feel calmer, and reduces the amount of anaesthetic we need to use (hence lowering the risks involved). For certain breeds, very elderly animals, exotic species and animals with certain health conditions, the vet may choose a different combination of drugs to use.

The Induction

The induction is where the animal is "induced" into general anaesthesia.

ivdrip.jpgThis is usually achieved by the vet giving an intravenous injection, often clipping a small patch on the front leg and using the cephalic vein located there. Our drug of choice is propofol.

Once the animal is induced, they are intubated. This involves inserting an endo-tracheal tube (E-T tube) in through the mouth and into the trachea. This is then attached to a anaesthetic circuit which provides a mix of oxygen, air and isoflurane, which is the "maintenance" part of the anaesthetic to ensure that your pet stays asleep and is able to have surgery without waking up.

etube.jpgFor every anaesthetic, there is a veterinary nurse monitoring the patient to ensure that they are not "too light" i.e. close to waking up, and not "too deep", i.e. getting an overdose of anaesthetic which can be very dangerous. The nurse monitors the patients breathing, heart rate, reflexes and jaw tone and adjusts the anaesthetic accordingly. These measurements are recorded on an anaesthetic chart.

As well as the anaesthetic, your pet may need other drugs during their procedure. The most common of these would be analgesics (pain killers) and antibiotics. These are also recorded on the anaesthetic chart so that everyone knows what drugs have been given.

Another important aspect of anaesthetics is ensuring that the patient is kept warm. Recovery from anaesthetic is much longer if the animal is cold, and so heat mats, lamps and blankets are often used to maintain body heat. The smaller the patient the faster body heat is lost.

Once your pet's procedure is finished, the anaesthetic agent is stopped and the animal breathes in an oxygen / air mixture until he or she starts to come round. Once they begin to swallow, the endo-tracheal tube is removed and the patient taken from the operating table to somewhere warm where they can be monitored whilst they recover.