Cornell University Hospital for Animals

 

Hospital Services
Equine


Equine
(607) 253-3100

Types of Anesthesia

There are two main types of anesthesia:

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

As with any procedure, there are inherent risks involved in general anesthesia including, but not limited to, cardiopulmonary complications or trauma during recovery.

Locoregional anesthesia may include:

    • Peripheral nerve blockswhich involve making numb only that part of the body to be operated on, as it is the case in dental extractions. The nerves that give feeling to the area being operated on are “blocked” by the local anesthetic so that that area cannot be felt. Frequently used local anesthetic drugs include bupivacaine and lidocaine.

      Potential complications may include failure of the anesthetic technique; hematoma formation; adverse reactions to the drugs being administered including drug toxicity, allergic reactions or infections.

     

    • Epidural is another type of regional analgesic/anesthetic technique that involves injecting a local anesthetic drug or an analgesic drug such as morphine, into the vertebral canal. 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; adverse reactions to the drugs being administered including pruritus (itchiness), drug toxicity, allergic reactions; infection; hemorrhage; neurological complications involving the spinal cord or central nervous system which, although rare, may result in temporary or permanent paralysis;.

      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.

Procedural sedation
Procedural sedation is often combined with a locoregional or epidural block for a surgical procedure. Because the horse is standing, this form of anesthesia has reduced effects in the incidence of possible complications related to recovery.

We primarily use procedural sedation for certain procedures such as sinusotomies or certain ocular or dental procedures (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 help provide perioperative comfort.