For many of the surgeries offered at the practice the horse will have to undergo anaesthesia. Just as in any animal there are risks when a horse undergoes anaesthesia and all horses having these procedures are monitored by a member of our experienced veterinary team, assisted by a member of the nursing team. We have anaesthetised a huge range of horses and ponies from tiny donkey foals, through to competing horses, geriatric horses and huge shire horses. Each group of horses have their own potential risk factors and experience helps to minimise those risks.
All horse having an anaesthetic procedure are given a thorough clincal check before being given any drugs, checking the cardiovascular system in particular. Some horses require a pre anaesthetic blood sample run in our on-site laboratory. Before going round to induction most are given a ‘pre-med’ drug to calm them, followed by a true sedative drug in the induction box. The induction box is a specially designed room with padded walls and floor. Going down at induction and waking up on recovery are particularly risky times for the horse so this room helps to protect them.
A breathing tube is inserted into the windpipe to maintain an open airway and to allow delivery of gas anaesthetics and oxygen. Drugs used at the practice are modern safe anaesthetic drugs, although all anaesthetics still carry some risk. For all but the shortest procedures the horse is hoisted by a winch onto a padded bed in the separate theatre that helps to protect the horses muscles. They are put onto fluids and monitored throughout the procedure by the anaesthetic team.
After surgery the anaesthetic drugs are discontinued and the horse returned to the induction box. Sedatives are usually given to make the transition from anaesthesia easier for the horse. Once recovered from the anaesthetic and the horse is able to walk they are returned to their box and provided with much needed TLC from the nursing team. If necessary intensive care boxes with heaters and fluid delivery devices are available in the stables.