General anesthesia begins in the preparation room with an intravenous injection of medication and/or inhalation of anesthetic gasses. The anesthetic state is maintained by a combination of inhalation gases which are dosed as needed. Commonly, a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) is inserted into the windpipe through the mouth after your pet is asleep. Inhalation anesthetics are delivered through this tube. Sometimes the anesthetics are delivered through a special facemask. Once surgery is complete, the anesthetic gases are discontinued and a return to the awakened state occurs shortly thereafter. The breathing tube is usually removed in the recovery room.
Most patients are placed on an ECG, which monitors the electrical activity of the heart as well as the heart rate and respiratory rate. Patients are also placed on a pulse oximeter, which measures the oxygen saturation of the blood as well as the heart rate. There is also a veterinary technician or assistant with your pet while he or she is under anesthesia. After surgery, patients return to the ward for recovery which takes 30minutes to an hour. They may be released when they are stable. A staff member will review post operative instructions, medications, and unanswered questions and will assist in putting your pet in your vehicle. Following the procedure, your pet may have a dry throat and an occasional cough for 24 to 48 hours.
Both local and general anesthesia involves risk. There is a possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of surgical anesthesia or sedation. Although these risk are very small. There is no test or examination that can accurately predict which patients will have these complications. However your primary care veterinarian may wish to do special examinations, tests and studies to define any condition that may require special needs.