Fri, 12 Aug 2022

A Beginner's Guide to Anesthesia

14 Jun 2022, 23:24 GMT+10

Anesthesia is a vital part of pain management in veterinary medicine. There are different types of anesthesia, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will discuss what anesthesia is, the different types of anesthesia, and their uses in veterinary medicine.

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a medical term that refers to the loss of sensation or feeling. Anesthesia can be caused by a variety of drugs, including general anesthetics (such as propofol and etomidate), regional anesthesia (such as lidocaine and bupivacaine), and local anesthetics (such as lidocaine and bupivacaine).

Different types of anesthesia

Regional anesthesia

Regional anesthesia is used to numb a large area of the body. This type of anesthesia is often used in conjunction with surgeries on the limbs or trunk. The precise surgical indications include:

  • Peripheral Nerve Block (forelimb, head, and hindlimb unilateral)
  • Epidural anesthesia (hindlimb bilateral)

The advantages of regional anesthesia include:

  • Hastened mobility and recovery for the patient following surgery
  • Pain alleviation
  • Opioid sparing effect

Local anesthesia

Local anesthesia numbs a small, specific area of the body. This type of anesthesia is often used for minor surgeries or procedures, such as biopsies. The advantages of local anesthesia include:

  • Less pain and swelling following the procedure
  • Quicker recovery time

General anesthesia

General anesthesia is used to render the patient unconscious. This type of anesthesia is often used for major surgeries, such as orthopedic surgery. This variety is either administered intravenously or by inhalation. The advantages of general anesthesia include:

  • The ability to keep the patient still during surgery
  • Less pain and stress for the patient following surgery

However, there are also disadvantages associated with general anesthesia, including:

  • The anesthesia can be unpredictable
  • Patients may experience side effects, such as nausea and vomiting

What to expect when your pet gets anesthesia

If your pet is scheduled to undergo some type of surgery and, as a result, set to be administered some type of anesthesia, your veterinary technician may instruct you to follow some important rules prior to the intervention. Common instructions include:


Fasting your pet for a minimum of 12 hours prior to anesthesia can greatly reduce the risk of having food interfere with intubation and recovery following sedation.

Preparing a recovering area at home

Your pet will be groggy and disoriented following anesthesia. As a result, it's important to create a safe, quiet area for them to recover in. This should include:

  • A bed or cushion
  • An easily accessible water bowl
  • Separation from other pets

Restricting activity

Depending on the type of surgery and anesthesia, your pet will need to rest and avoid strenuous activity anywhere from one to two weeks after the intervention. Carrying your pet up and down stairs, forgoing walks, and even sitting them by a stimulating view of the outdoors can help reduce their activity and help with recovery.

The Takeaway

Anesthesia is an important, but potentially dangerous, part of veterinary medicine. There are different types of anesthesia, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Speak with your veterinarian to see what you should do to accommodate your pet following an intervention of anesthesia.

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