Often the more expensive anesthetics are safer to use; however, anesthetics are also chosen for other reasons including their ability to control pain.
A local anesthetic causes a loss of sensation to a ‘local’ area. Small surgical or diagnostic procedures may require a local anesthetic to perform. A biopsy is a common diagnostic procedure where local anesthetic can be used to control pain. A biopsy involves surgical removal of a small portion of tissue.
Tranquilization or sedation is used to calm an animal under various conditions. The animal remains awake or may ‘sleep’ but is easily aroused when stimulated. Pet owners frequently request sedation for their animals during travel, thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. Sedation and tranquilization are not without risk and each animal should be assessed prior to dispensing these medicines.
A general anesthetic results in a loss of consciousness in the animal and a loss of sensation throughout the body. Most general anesthetic procedures involve several steps beginning with the administration of a sedative. An intravenous injection of an anesthetic renders the animal unconscious while a breathing tube is placed into the animal’s trachea. A gas anesthetic is delivered in combination with oxygen to the animal via the breathing tube to maintain the state of unconsciousness.
Although general anesthetics are significantly safer than they have been in the past, there is still the remote chance of an anesthetic accident. There are many ways to reduce the risk associated with anesthesia including a thorough physical examination and blood work prior to anesthesia. Anesthetic monitoring equipment and protocol can also contribute to a safer anesthesia.