Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Critical Care
The Intensive Care Unit at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital is dedicated to providing the highest quality care to critically ill small animal and special species patients. The unit is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by a team of specialty-trained nurses who work closely with faculty, residents, interns and students. Every member of the ICU faculty is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care; the care and well-being of every patient is assessed constantly by several members of the ICU team, including the faculty.
Teaching is an important part of our mission, so while we provide the highest-quality care to every patient, we also strive to identify every opportunity for learning. All our nurses are veterinary emergency and critical care technicians, and they—along with the faculty, residents, interns and students—play indispensable roles in the success of our intensive care practice.
On average, there are seven to 10 patients in the ICU each day, with an average stay of two to three days per patient. Each year, we see about 1,200 dogs and cats, and our special species caseload is growing. All our patients are considered high risk, and each one has been admitted to the ICU because of the presence of a life-threatening disease condition and/or due to special needs (such as advanced pain management or complex fluid or drug therapy). Despite this challenging population, we have an overall discharge alive rate of approximately 75 percent.
We routinely manage patients with complex and multisystemic disease processes such as:
- Sepsis and systemic inflammatory response syndrome,
- Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy,
- Acute renal failure,
- Respiratory failure,
- Congestive heart disease and
- Seizures and spinal cord disease.
The ICU provides state-of-the-art critical care therapy and monitoring. In addition to monitoring changes in physical parameters, we routinely use advanced monitoring modalities such as:
- Direct and indirect arterial and central venous pressure monitoring,
- Pulmonary artery catheter placement,
- Arterial and venous blood gas analysis,
- Pulse oximetry,
- End-tidal capnography and measurement of lung mechanics,
- Urinary output monitoring via closed urinary collection systems and
- Cageside measurement of hematocrit, hemoglobin, electrolytes and colloid osmotic pressure.
We routinely employ advanced therapeutic and supportive modalities such as:
- Routine fluid and colloid therapy,
- Oxygen supplementation,
- Advanced pain management,
- Positive pressure ventilation,
- Blood product transfusion,
- Nutritional support,
- Peritoneal dialysis,
- Wound care and
- Cardiopulmonary cerebral resuscitation.