Anaesthesia at VSA
We are New Zealand's only private veterinary hospital with a specialist in veterinary anaesthesia and pain management.
VSA's Advanced approach to anaesthesia
When animals are referred to VSA, they commonly will need to undergo surgery, diagnostic imaging (radiographs, ultrasound, CT, MRI) or have a medical medical procedure (endoscopy). To be able to perform these procedures safely, sedation or anaesthesia is generally required.
Our anaesthesia specialist, Dr Joana Chagas, is responsible for developing anaesthesia protocols tailored to the specific needs of your pet. She works closely with our team of dedicated and highly qualified veterinary nurses and the other clinicians to provide comfort, safety and the best care to our patients.
Each patient is evaluated individually, and an anaesthetic protocol is then developed. Our nursing team closely monitors your pet during every step of the procedure until recovery, ensuring they are safe and as pain free as possible.
Our hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art anaesthetic machines and monitoring equipment. We can provide advanced care such as mechanical ventilation, invasive blood pressure monitoring and multimodal analgesia – analgesic infusions or local-regional anaesthesia techniques.
We treat every patient as if they were our own – we know that there is someone very special waiting for them to return home.
What is Anaesthesia?
The First Step - A Pre-Operative Exam
In the morning of your pet’s procedure one of our nursing team will come out to gain consent to admit your pet. They will ask a few questions such as when your pet ate last, whether they are on any medication and if you have any concerns. We then weigh your pet and perform a thorough physical exam which includes listening to their heart and lungs, palpation of their pulses and assessment of gum colour among other parameters. We will also place numbing cream on one of their legs in preparation for an IV catheter placement.
An anaesthetic plan will be devised depending on your pet’s demeanour, their clinical history, the procedure needing to be performed and any pre-existing disease or condition.
Once a plan is in place, a pre-med will be given with some pre-emptive analgesia and sometimes a mild sedative to reduce anxiety.
An IV catheter is placed into a vein in one of your pet’s legs (the fur will be clipped for this), so we have safe IV access for induction, monitoring and in case of any unexpected problems.
Your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids to support and optimise their cardiovascular function during the anaesthetic. Induction comprises of pre-oxygenation and then admission of one or sometimes a combination of drugs to ensure rapid, stress free unconsciousness and safe securing of their airway. An endo-tracheal tube will be placed into your pet’s trachea to deliver oxygen and anaesthetic gas directly to their lungs. This also means their lungs are safe from aspirating any foreign material for the duration of the procedure.
Immediately after induction all our advanced monitoring equipment is connected, and your pet is then continuously monitored for the duration of the procedure and into recovery.
Once anaesthetised we use thorough advanced monitoring equipment including;
- ECG (assess heart rate and rhythm)
- Capnography (assesses ventilation by the amount of carbon dioxide being exhaled)
- Pulse oximetry (assesses the oxygen in the haemoglobin in the blood)
- Blood pressure
- Oesophageal temperature probe
- Blood gasses (to assess ventilation, oxygenation, and acid base derangements)
As well as the above equipment a dedicated, qualified nurse using ‘hands on’ monitoring techniques will be closely monitoring your pet’s anaesthetic from start to finish and recording relevant parameters on a detailed anaesthetic chart. This allows us to monitor trends accurately and act quickly and appropriately should any case require additional support.
Recovery from anaesthesia is one of the higher risk periods of anaesthesia. We continue to monitor your pet regularly until they we are comfortable that they are no longer at high risk.
We also have our 24-hour Animal Emergency team onsite so if your pet is very sick or high risk for post operative complications they can still be monitored by dedicated nurses and vets overnight well into the post-anaesthetic period. This