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We get it. Surgery is scary. Anesthesia and putting a pet "under" is really scary.
But we'll make it as safe as possible. Here's how:
1) Pre-anesthesia blood work. This gives us information on underlying conditions and allows us to adjust protocols or change plans if needed.
2) Pre-anesthesia exam. We don't care if we saw your pet yesterday, one of the veterinarians is going to examine him before the procedure. No exceptions. We need to know that nothing has changed. Based on blood work, underlying issues and the exam, every patient receives an individualized anesthesia plan the morning of surgery.
3) Intravenous access. Every pet undergoing general anesthesia gets an IV catheter and fluids. We have instant access for emergency drugs if necessary. We can adjust fluid rates easily if blood pressure is abnormal.
4) Intubation. Every pet undergoing general anesthesia gets intubated - basically has a breathing tube to deliver continuous oxygen and emergency breathing support if needed.
5) Continuous monitoring by a dedicated veterinary nurse. Every pet under general anesthesia has a nurse whose only job is to monitor vitals: heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, EKG, temperature and end-tidal CO2. In addition, they are double checking these values against the patient - how do the pulses feel? how does the gum color look? how do the heart and the lungs sound? All of this is recorded so that they not only see minute-to-minute what is normal, but can monitor trends throughout the procedure and be proactive rather than having to react to a crisis.
6) Post-operative monitoring. Every pet is watched and monitored after surgery to make sure they are safe and recovering appropriately.
7) Post-anesthesia grading. How did the procedure go? Did the pet do well under anesthesia? Anything we would have liked to be different. The event gets graded by the doctor and nurses so that future procedures can go as well or better than the one we just did.
As for the kinds of surgeries we do...
Spay, neuter, oral surgery and mass removals are by far the most common.
But I want to stress: MOST OF THE TIME THESE ARE NOT ROUTINE. Everyone seems to think a spay is an easy, cheap procedure. It's not. As a profession we've tried to make spays cost-effective, but the fact of the matter is that they are potentially very involved surgeries where the ovaries and uterus are removed. Depending on the pet's body condition, weight, age and time in her cycle, the spay can be the most dangerous thing that ever happens to your pet.
That's why we need The Seven Precautions above. To make sure that regardless of how risky it is, the outcome is routine.
We also perform abdominal exploratories, some orthopedic procedures, biopsies, laceration repairs and wound management, some eye surgeries...it's a long list!
For things we don't do, aren't comfortable with or even if you just prefer it - we offer referral to board-certified veterinary surgeons. Sometimes they can come to the hospital, sometimes they are in Wilmington, sometimes you will need to go to Raleigh.
So don't be afraid of anesthesia and surgery just because they're anesthesia and surgery. We're here to answer your questions, reassure you, and make it the best experience with the best outcome possible.