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Another critical aspect of successful anesthesia is tracking patients’ vital signs. When veterinarians and technicians monitor anesthetized pets with a pulse oximeter, an instrument that measures the blood’s oxygen saturation, patient outcomes significantly improve, because the instrument alerts the veterinary team to problems before they become serious. The pulse oximeter is just one type of monitoring equipment that has been developed to improve anesthesia safety. Your veterinary team uses various devices to promptly adjust anesthetic doses and treat pets throughout a procedure. What’s more, the creation of new and better anesthetic drugs has also increased safety.
These strides in veterinary anesthesia have been driven, in part, by the fact that veterinarians have begun to specialize in certain areas, one of which is anesthesia. Similar to specialists in human medicine, these veterinarians undergo extensive training. Veterinary anesthesia specialists have completed in-depth study in anesthesia and pain management, including a three-year residency program and a certification examination. These specialists are referred to as diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. They work in university referral hospitals, as well as private practices like the one your pets visit.
Veterinary technicians also can specialize in anesthesia by becoming members of the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists. In order to become a member, credentialed veterinary technicians must amass at least 4,500 hours of anesthesia experience and complete extensive professional education. Again, veterinary technician specialists may work in university settings or in general veterinary practices.
Knowing that your pet needs anesthesia can be worrying. To ensure the best outcome, keep your pet at a healthy weight, keep a list of drugs and supplements your pet is receiving and follow your veterinarian’s instructions for preparing for the procedure. And don’t hesitate to ask questions about the specific risks to your pet, available monitoring equipment and the qualifications of the staff who will be looking after your pet during his hospital stay. By working with your veterinary team, you’ll help ensure your pet awakes from anesthesia healthier than before.
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