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How risky is a general anaesthetic?
Overall, the risk of general anaesthesia is low. On average in the UK, the fatality rate from anesthesia is 0.1% for healthy cats and 1.3% for sick cats. The need for an anaesthetic needs to be weighed against the benefits of the procedure. For example, if your pet has severe cardiovascular or respiratory disease it may be considered too unsafe or they may need to be stabilised prior to the anaesthetic.
Top anaesthetic risks:
How can it be made safer?
We will never be able to completely eliminate the risk of anaesthesia, however there are multiple ways we can make it substantially safer. Ultimately, the more information we have about your pet’s current health status, the better we can recognise, prevent and treat any potential anaesthetic complications.
Below are steps that we take to minimise anaesthetic risk:
Veterinary nurse or animal technician: A trained member of staff will be assigned to your pet. Their sole job is to continuously monitor your pet’s vital signs throughout anaesthesia, from induction to recovery, alerting the vet to any changes and making adjustments quickly.
Pre-anaesthetic assessment: Your vet will take into account your pet’s history, current conditions and medications, lifestyle and other relevant history. Every cat will undergo a thorough veterinary exam prior to the anaesthetic to identify any underlying conditions that can then be addressed.
Intravenous catheter placement: Every patient is assessed individually and almost every patient has an intravenous (IV) catheter placed prior to the procedure. The catheter can be used to provide anaesthetics and fluids to keep your pet hydrated; additionally, if needed, it would serve as a pathway to directly administer life-saving medications should a crisis arise.
Below are steps we may take on an individual basis or by an owner’s request:
Pre-anesthetic blood test: If your cat is 8 years old or over, has a preexisting medical condition, or where the preoperative examination or history raises concerns we
strongly recommend a blood test prior to the procedure. This allows us to better assess the functioning of critical organs and proteins which are important for healing times, amongst other things. Any problems that are identified can then be addressed, such as administering fluids, altering drug protocols or delaying the procedure if necessary.
Intravenous fluid therapy: Fluids may be administered during the procedure to maintain or correct hydration and blood pressure. This keeps sensitive organs like the kidneys functioning optimally and aids recovery by helping the liver and kidneys clear the body of anaesthetic agents. Other diagnostic tests may be recommended on an individual basis.
How is my pet monitored throughout the anaesthetic?
There are many ways in which your cat will be monitored during anaesthesia. They include:
If you have any other questions about anaesthesia or specifically questions relating to your pet, don’t hesitate to speak to one of our vets.
If your pet has a specific procedure booked in over the coming days please click here.