The Anesthesia Service of the Ryan Veterinary Hospital is a subsection of the Critical Care Service, along with the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Service.
Anesthesia as a specialty in veterinary medicine was developed in the early 1960’s when it became clear that special attention was required to the patient’s condition during the administration of anesthetic agents. The University of Pennsylvania was one of the first veterinary hospitals to have anesthesia as a special department, with Drs. Larry Soma and Alan Klide as pioneers in the field. Over the past ten years, several of our nurses were instrumental in the development of the certification process for specialized veterinary nurse anesthetists.
Currently, the section consists of three board-certified anesthesiologists, 2 board-pending anesthesiologists, six residents, and 20 certified veterinary technicians, four of whom are certified in the anesthesia specialty as of 2008.
Throughout the years, veterinary anesthesiology has followed human medicine with regard to providing the safest possible anesthetics, assisted ventilation and oxygen delivery, and constant monitoring and support of vital status. Education in pharmacology, cardiology, pain management, and other relevant fields is provided on a continual basis for staff members. Staff members are responsible for understanding and monitoring EKG, blood pressure (through direct and/or indirect devices), pulse oximetry, end tidal CO2. State-of-the art anesthesia machines, ventilators and monitors are available for use.
The case load is varied, from healthy animals for routine procedures to patients undergoing brain or open-heart surgery. Patients include dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, birds, reptiles, and more. From evaluation and handling of the patient prior to the procedure, to ensuring optimal management throughout the procedure and post-operatively, delivering anesthesia safely to such a variety of species provides an exciting challenge. Providing comfort and quality pain management to the patient throughout the process makes the job extremely rewarding.