03 3489728 Straven Road Vet
03 3525749 Papanui Vet
What happens when my pet is left at the clinic for surgery?
by Dr. Francesca Matthews
On arrival, the morning of surgery
On arrival at the Veterinary Centre you will usually be seen by one of the clinic veterinary nurses. They will be responsible for admitting your pet. They will double check all your details, your pet's details and what procedure you are bringing your pet in for. They will also ensure that you leave a contact number for the day that you will be available on at all times.
Reason why we need a reliable contact number:
If we find that we need to do anything else while your pet is under anaesthetic - for example, we find a lump or the procedure ends up being more complicated than expected, we can contact you immediately to advise and get permission to do additional procedures.
Once the procedure is completed and your pet is recovering, we like to be able to contact you and advise that your pet is doing well and arrange a pick up time.
The third reason, and hopefully an event that doesn't happen, but can in rare cases, if something goes wrong during anaesthetic then our veterinary clinic staff also need to be able to contact you immediately.
Image source wikimedia commons
What else will the pre-admission check entail?
The veterinary nurse will also ask if there is anything else you want doing at the same time such as your pets nails trimming. If it is possible veterinarians and their staff will try and accommodate these requests. However, in certain cases, some additional procedures may not be advised to be carried out at the same time. Our veterinary clinic staff will be able to advise whether the additional procedures you request are possible.
The admitting veterinary nurse will then check that your pet has had food and water withheld for the required length of time. For cats and dogs this is usually 8-12 hours for food, and since the early morning for water. Rabbits and other small pets have much higher metabolisms and they also do not have the same propensity to vomit, so withholding food is generally not recommended in these species. The veterinary nurse will also check that your pet is healthy, for any medications they are on, any previous problems with anaesthetics and so on.
Once they are satisfied that everything is in order you will be asked to sign a consent form to say that you have had explained to you the risks of anaesthesia and that you understand these. This is the same sort of thing you would be asked to sign at a hospital. It is not a waiver of responsibility on the Veterinary Centre's behalf, but provided due diligence is undertaken and an adverse event occurs, then you are accepting the risks. Your pet will then be admitted to the hospital.
On admission your pet will be given a clinical examination (a once over like your pet receives at its annual vaccinations). The Veterinary Centre staff obtain baseline measurements of heart rate, breathing rate and temperature for your pet so these things can be monitored under anaesthetic. If there are any concerns with the clinical examination you will be contacted.
Anaesthetising your pet
The example given here is for a standard routine surgery such as a desexing operation or dental in a cat or dog using a full general anaesthetic, firstly by injection in the cephalic vein (intravenous) in the leg, and then maintained via gas anaesthetic (one they breath in and out). There are many variations used depending on the procedure and the demeanour of your pet.
Review another article in this section for more on anaesthesia an also pre anaesthetic blood tests.
What happens here depends considerably on the procedure. We will use an example of a routine desexing operation.
Next the veterinarian will place a sterile cloth (or drape) with a hole in it (called a fenestration) over the area that he or she wishes to make the surgical incision into.
The procedure is carried out and the surgical site sutured back together. Usually there are sutures on the outside which need to be removed 10 - 14 days later, but in some cases the skin will be held together with sutures that are buried under the skin and these will dissolve by themselves.
Once the surgical site is closed, the drape is removed and the anaesthetic machine is turned off. Your pet is left to breathe pure oxygen for a few minutes, before this is also removed. Once your pet has regained its swallow reflex, the ET tube is also removed and your pet is transported back to a recovery area for further monitoring until he or she can hold his or her head up again.
It is at this stage that a phone call is normally made to you to advise that everything went well and to arrange a suitable pick up time.