Monitoring is important to detect any possible problems early and take action, when necessary. We use several methods to monitor the condition of an animal while it is under anesthesia. As you’ve undoubtedly seen in many medical shows about surgical procedures on humans, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure can all be observed with specialized devices. It is no different for procedures here at Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals.
The methods we use include mechanical monitoring with our Surgivet heart rate monitor, in addition to a doppler for measuring blood pressure. In addition, we monitor the animal’s respiration rate, SPO2 (oxygen saturation) and body temperature. We also observe the patient’s gum color and CRT (capillary refill time).
We gauge the depth of the animal’s anesthesia based on its vitals, along with the presence of reflexes such as the palpebrial reflex (blink), jaw tone and deep pain response, which allows us to adjust the levels of anesthesia we’re administering, while ensuring that we do not provide more than is needed.
Anesthesia in animals can suppress more than voluntary movements, such as moving limbs. It also suppresses involuntary movements such as breathing. This is why, during a procedure where some types of anesthesia are administered, it is appropriate to provide mechanical or manual breathing assistance — also known as ventilation.
Ventilation can be provided by the anesthetist manually or using a mechanical ventilator (see below). In either case, the process would be accompanied by veterinary anesthesia monitoring to ensure that the animal’s breathing is fully supported while under anesthesia’s effects.
Once the patient is recovering from veterinary surgery, they are disconnected from the ventilator to begin breathing normally. If the patient does not begin breathing normally or there are other respiratory issues, mechanical ventilation for animals can be used to assist at our Emergency Vet Animal Hospital Milwaukee.
When deemed appropriate, a doctor at the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals may administer a type of anesthesia called epidural injection. You may know a mother who delivered her child using this procedure. Similar to what she underwent, your animal would receive an injection into what is known as the epidural space. The epidural space is the space surrounding the spinal cord and nerves that come off directly from the spinal cord.
This completely eliminates sensation in the parts of the body that are below the injection point of the spinal column — without providing anesthesia to the parts above that point.