We focus most of our social media attention on surgery – that is after all what we do! It’s flashy and exciting and cool. Less flashy, exciting and cool but arguably much more important to our patients is our ability to deliver safe and effective anesthesia.
Both human and veterinary patients can and do die from anesthesia – a fortunately rare event, but extremely concerning to both health care professionals and pet owners that understandably causes a lot of anxiety. We are blessed in our practice to have some of the best and safest equipment currently available.
Our main anesthesia machine used for all surgical procedures is a massive Draeger Primus. It is uncommon to find a machine like this even in a major multispecialty referral hospital. In human hospitals, this machine is used to provide anesthesia to premature babies undergoing major surgery! It measures every vital parameter that is monitored during anesthesia - heart rate, ECG, blood pressure, invasive blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, airway pressure, tidal volume, CO2 levels, and even measures the amount of anesthetic gas being exhaled by the patient! All of these readings are displayed on three large monitors that are visible from anywhere in the surgery suite.
The machine can also deliver multiple different types of inhalant anesthetics, including one of the newest, safest anesthetics available called sevofluorane. Sevofluorane is very expensive and often used for anesthesia in cardiac patients because it doesn’t impact cardiac output and patients recover from sevofluorane very quickly. In fact, we frequently see cardiac patients for routine procedures that would otherwise be done by their regular veterinarian but need more advanced anesthetic management. We have very highly trained staff who are able to manage these high-risk patients safely and effectively.
Most impressive, and perhaps one of the most important features is the adaptive ventilator and the on-board computer that manages it. This is definitely not equipment that will be found in a regular veterinary practice! The ventilator gives us the ability to perform thoracic surgery in a more safe and effective manner for cases like diaphragmatic hernia repair and mass removal. But our other cases benefit as well sometimes. If a patient isn’t breathing enough or taking large enough breaths, the on-board computer will sense this and kick on “ventilator-assist” – the computer will help them make up the difference for what they’re not doing themselves!
We can’t eliminate all of the risk to our patients but having access to this equipment definitely makes it much safer to deliver anesthesia to them. We know that this is the biggest concern that most of our clients have when they’re bringing their pets to us for surgery and we want to do everything we can to ease their concerns!