Surgical & Pre-Anaesthetic Testing
As in human medicine, the anaesthetics available for anaesthetizing our companion pets are extremely safe. Consequently, the risks of anaesthesia are greatly minimized when a "healthy" pet is placed under anaesthesia. However, if your pet is not "healthy", complications can arise both during and after the anaesthetic procedure. Therefore, in order to minimize the risks associated with anaesthesia and to allow us to give your pet the care that you expect, it is vital for us to know the complete health status of your pet prior to placing him or her under anaesthesia. Prior to anaesthetizing your pet, we will obtain a complete history and perform a detailed physical examination. Whilst this provides us with important information about your pet's health, it does not give us the complete picture. Unlike humans, pets cannot always tell us when they do not feel well. In addition, animals instinctively protect themselves by hiding or masking their illness. Thus an animal's appearance can be misleading. For example, pets can lose up to 75% of kidney function prior to showing any signs of illness. Thus in order to understand your pets overall health, it is crucial to derive additional information through preanaesthetic testing.
What is involved in testing your pet?
In most cases, we will collect a blood sample from your pet on the day of their surgery. This sample is then processed in our in-house laboratory, with results being obtained within 15 minutes of testing. There are certain cases in which we may need to send a blood sample to an external laboratory for additional testing. This usually takes 24 hours, so we will liaise with you to collect the necessary sample in a timely fashion prior to your pet's procedure.
What tests do we perform?
Most commonly we perform a pre-anaesthetic profile. This test gives us insight into the status of your pets liver, kidneys and pancreas. Knowledge of the status of these organs is critical when undertaking anaesthesia as it can influence our choice of anaesthetic agents used. This, in addition to our physical exam and history, is normally all that is required for an anaesthetic to proceed. However, in some cases we may advise additional tests which include a full blood count, electrolyte analysis, further biochemical markers and urinalysis. If we feel that these are necessary, we will discuss them with you before your pets anaesthetic.
What do the test results mean?
If the results of the preanaesthetic tests are within normal ranges, we can then proceed with your pets anaesthetic, confident that the risks of anaesthesia are minimal. However, if the results are not within the normal ranges, we may either alter our anaesthetic protocol, or elect to delay the procedure. In a small number of cases, the test results may be too abnormal and in these cases we may elect not to proceed with the anaesthetic. Although performing these tests cannot guarantee the absence of complications, it can significantly reduce the risk and provide you and us with peace of mind.
How do we use the test results?
If your pet is middle aged or older (6 to 8 years or more), or if your pet has abnormal test results, we strongly advise the use of intravenous fluids.
What is intravenous fluid?
Intra-venous fluid is a sterile solution that very closely matches the fluid component of blood found in all mammals. There are a number of different types of solutions, but the most commonly used ones include saline and hartmanns which contain sterile water and various electrolytes including sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride. These are the electrolytes that bathe the cells in our pets bodies and ours too! They are essential for life. They are delivered to the patient by means of a catheter or cannula that is inserted into a peripheral vein in one of your pets legs. The bag of fluid is connected to the catheter by means a sterile giving set. The fluid is then delivered to your pet at a pre-determined rate, based on your pets weight and known medical conditions. The catheter is removed once your pet has recovered sufficiently from his or her anaesthetic.
What are the advantages of Intra-venous fluids?
It is said that intravenous fluids have saved more lives than any other medical advancement to date since the inception of their use early last century. The benefits of intravenous fluids include, but are not limited to the following: - Improved cardiovascular circulation - Reduced risk of low blood pressure during surgery - More rapid recovery from anaesthesia - Improved kidney function during and after surgery - More rapid clearance of anaesthetic agents by the liver - Reduced risk of blood clot formation If you would like your pet to have these services, please inform the staff member that serves you on admission of your pet to our hospital. If you have any further questions about the benefits of these services, please don't hesitate to ask us.