During periods of anaesthesia the animals are extensively monitored for changes in heart rate, rhythm, ECG, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, inspired and expired carbon dioxide levels and body temperature.
We are also able to monitor inspired concentrations of anaesthetic agents that the animals are breathing. These monitors provide a moment by moment update of how deeply the animal is asleep and whether there are anaesthetic problems developing.
In order to minimise anaesthetic risk, we routinely use multimodal anaesthetic techniques. This allows our patients to be kept under a lighter plane of anaesthesia whilst not experiencing discomfort during surgery.
For many routine surgeries this involves a combination of two strong painkilling drugs, local anaesthetics and an epidural given before surgery. This has been shown to minimise the degree of pain experienced by the animal whilst limiting the dose of powerful drugs needed.
During and after surgery all animals are placed on intravenous fluids, the rate of fluid administration being exactly controlled by digital infusion pumps. This is important to avoid giving animals too much fluid (which can cause fluid accumulation in the lungs) or not enough fluids (which can lead to problems such as kidney failure).
Whilst under anaesthetic the animals are gently warmed using Hot Dog patient warming pads that are specifically designed for use on anaesthetised patients. Our heating systems constantly monitor and adjust the temperature at the skin surface. The equipment is expensive, but it is necessary to help to avoid extensive burns that are well recognised where less advanced heat pads are used. By maintaining body temperature during surgery animals recover far faster and are less susceptible to surgical site infection.