Cornell University Hospital for Animals

 

Hospital Services
Companion Animal


Companion Animal
(607) 253-3060

Types of Anesthesia

There are two main types of anesthesia:

General anesthesia
Anesthesia is a drug-induced state of unconsciousness that enables veterinarians to perform surgery, or other therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, that would otherwise not be possible on awake animal patients. General anesthesia is produced by injecting drugs into your pet’s blood stream or by your pet breathing an anesthetic gas. Our board-certified anesthesiologists develop an individualized plan for the care of each patient.

As with any medical procedure, there are inherent risks involved in anesthesia including, but not limited to, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, adverse reactions anesthetic drugs, equipment malfunction, complications related to infection, allergic reactions or even failure of the anesthetic technique itself.

Locoregional anesthesia may include:

    • Peripheral nerve blocks which involve making numb only that part of the body to be operated on, for example a leg. The nerves that give feeling to the area being operated on are “blocked” by the local anesthetic so that pain cannot be felt. Frequently used local anesthetic drugs include bupivacaine and lidocaine.

      Potential complications may include failure of the anesthetic technique; hemorrhage; adverse reactions to the drugs being administered including drug toxicity, allergic reactions; infection; complications involving the nervous system which, although rare, may result in temporary or permanent paralysis.

    • Epidural is another type of regional analgesic/anesthetic technique that involves injecting a local anesthetic drug or an analgesic drug such as morphine, around the spinal cord. A needle is placed between the vertebrae into a space called the epidural space. Medication is then placed into this space.

      Potential complications may include failure of the anesthetic technique; drug-induced low blood pressure (hypotension); adverse reactions to the drugs being administered including drug toxicity, allergic reactions; infection; hemorrhage; inability to urinate; neurological complications involving the spinal cord or central nervous system which, although rare, may result in temporary or permanent paralysis; urinary retention; pruritus (itchiness); slow re-growth of hair over the injection site.

      Both types of anesthesia are frequently used in combination so as to take advantage of their positive attributes while limiting their undesirable side effects, and increasing the safety of anesthesia while optimizing pain relief.


Procedural sedation
Also known as twilight sleep or conscious sedation; procedural sedation is often combined with a locoregional block to sedate an animal for surgery or a diagnostic procedure. Because the animal is not completely unconscious, this form of anesthesia has reduced effects in the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems and shortened recovery time.

We primarily use procedural sedation for certain diagnostic procedures such as computerized tomography (CT) or orthopedic knee surgery (although patients undergoing other procedures are considered on a case-by-case basis).

Pain prevention and treatment
We offer acute pre- and post-operative pain management using a wide range of pharmaceutical products and locoregional blocks. Our service works with all patients undergoing procedures to reduce anxiety and provide perioperative comfort.