Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Now it all makes sense!

In an effort to be more involved here at the clinic, I took it upon myself to do a little research.  I am always amazed when a pet comes in for surgery how complicated it all looks!  I mean there is just so much that goes on!   First a sedative, then hooked up to an IV fluid line, then snuggled up with cozy oat bags, then two doctors hovering around as they give anesthetic drugs, then a whirlwind of activity as the tube to secure the airway goes in, then the machine gets hooked up then all the lines and monitors go on....I am exhausted just writing this.  I've seen it so many times and never stopped to ask...why?

Well I opened up a few books and asked a few questions and now I know, so I thought I'd share.  There are a lot of things that can happen under a general anesthetic.  Most are common and can be easily corrected or treated if somebody picks them up early.  But you have to be there, watching, listening, and knowing what you are looking for!  That's why all the docs here like to get involoved.  Just to have two sets of ears and eyes.  That way they can react quickly!  And the IV line helps them do that too.  I like to think of it as the "life line".  It's connected right to the blood system so if they need to give a drug in an emergency situation they don't have to fumble around (not that they would anyways!) and they can give it quickly.  It's even helpful in not so emergency situations.  If the doctors think the pet is painful or if they want to give a drug to speed up the heart rate so we can all breathe a little easier it just happens that much faster.  Things change quickly under a general anesthetic and all the monitors and lines that connect to the big machine that looks like a computer screen called a c-a-r-d-e-l-l help us all pick up on changes so we can act promptly.  So why do we need to monitor all this stuff?  Here is a brief summary - 

1.  Blood pressure - a little cuff that goes around the food (so cute right?  Just like for people!) - - decreases in blood pressure happen all the time under anesthetic!  If we don't look we don't ever know but this can be really bad for important organs like kidneys, liver and heart.  Luckily that trusted IV fluid line just gets a workout and delivers more fluid for 15-20 minutes and that's usually all it takes to make things right again.

2.  Pulse ox - this measures amount of oxygen in the blood.  Super important for normal organ function!  Instead of going on the finger like in people it goes on the tongue in cats and dogs.  A little wierd I think but it works!

3.  Capnograph - This measures carbon dioxide that is breathed in and out.  Cool thing about this number is it proves it's not good enough just to count breaths.  The capnograph makes sure they are good deep breaths and actually clearning carbon dioxide from the body.  If carbon dioxide gets too high it can depress heart function - scary!  

4.  Heart rate and breathing rate - help assess proper depth of anesthetic.

5.  EKG - heart rhythm.  Yes it looks like a human EKG it's so cool!  There are common (not so scary and easily corrected with medication) rhythm changes and uncommon ones that are a little scarier but don't worry the doctors have protocols on how to deal with them taped to the wall.  I can't stress enough the importance of being prepared.

6.  Body temperature - seems simple right?  But really important.  Cold pets don't clear drugs very well from their bodies, feel pain more and recover more slowly from anesthetic.  Not exactly what we want.  The Cardell machine measures core body temperature, a small probe is placed down the throat to measure the temperature on the inside of the body right near the heart.  

So there you have it.  Now I know.  If only I could be of more help during all these surgeries, but I guess I'll have to settle for staying out of the way so nobody trips on my tail and keeping my fuzz out of the sterile surgery room.  Now after all this learning I need a crunchy cookie and a long nap.  It's tough keeping up with the going's on here.  I thought you all might like to see a picture of me in "study mode."  I think it suits me!

xoxo Bailey