Montgomery Village Animal Hospital

19222 Montgomery Village Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD 20886


          Anesthesia & Anesthetic Monitoring

One of the things that many clients fear the most is anesthesia. This need not be the case!  As a veterinarian, I have been using various anesthetics for over 40 years. Over the years I have seen the development of many new drugs and the drugs that we are currently using are so safe that we do not hesitate to anesthetize any pet that needs to have a procedure done. 

Anesthetic Agents

  1. LOCAL ANESTHETICS - These drugs are injected into the body to create a desensitized area of the skin, or sections of a limb. Although very commonly used in human medicine, many of our pets will not cooperate and physically holding them still might be more dangerous to them than using a general anesthetic. So local anesthesia is used mainly for small growth removals on areas of the body where the pet will tolerate manipulations awake. Examples of local anesthetics are Lidocaine and Carbocaine.
  2. INJECTABLE ANESTHETICS - These drugs are usually used for either very short procedures, or they may be used to "induce" anesthesia and are then followed by introduction of a gas anesthetic agent to continue the anesthetic procedure.  Examples of injectable Anesthetics are Propofol, Ketamine/Valium, and Dexdomitor.
    c.   GAS ANESTHETICS - For procedures longer than several minutes, gas anesthetics are the safest way to go.  In humans and in our pets, gas anesthetics are delivered with a special anesthetic machine. Gas anesthetics are administered through tubing that is then connected to an "endotracheal tube" which is placed into your pet's windpipe. With this setup, it is possible for us to have complete control over your pet's breathing, which is essential for absolute safety. 

Anesthetic Monitoring
No anesthetic protocol is safe without the right monitoring equipment and trained technicians to watch over your pet's anesthetic protocol.  There are many different types of monitors.  Let's look at a few of them:

  1. Respiratory Monitors - No system is more important to monitor than the your pet's respirations. There are multiple ways to monitor respiration. The easiest way is to visually observe chest movements.  This, however, is not adequate in many cases, so we have two electronic monitors that help us.
  2. Anesthetic Level - Our advanced anesthesia machines analyze each breath in and each breath out and display exactly the level of anesthesia that is in the breathing circuit.
  3. Electrocardiograph Monitor - We always monitor the electrical activity of the heart. This is critical with anesthesia, since electrical disturbances or arrhythmias can be picked up easily and treated if necessary. These monitors also constantly display the heart rate and make audible beeps with each beat.  This makes it easy to monitor your pet, both by sound and electrical wave patterns.
  4. Pulse Oximetry - This monitors how well the Red Blood Cells are being Oxygenated by the lungs and pumped by the heart. This is a very sensitive instrument and can alert us to any combination of poor respiration or poor circulation.
  5. End Tidal CO2 -This machine takes a sampling of your pets exhaled air and analyzes it for carbon dioxide. If your pet's breathing is too slow or too shallow the carbon dioxide will start rising. This is a much better way of analyzing respiration than just observing your pet breathing.
  6. Blood Pressure -  This is an essential monitoring technique. Blood pressure can be monitored by a simple cuff that is placed either on a leg or a tail.