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Promoting and Advancing Anesthesia & Analgesia Care Animals Deserve

Services for the general public

This section is suited for all those seeking an expert opinion in the area of Veterinary Anesthesia & Pain Care.

  • General public
  • Individual clients
  • Professional veterinary organizations
  • Animal health insurance industry
  • Law firms
  • Public media
  • Sponsors/organizers of CE programs in veterinary anesthesia & analgesia
  • Non-profit organisations
General Information

Ever since veterinary anesthesia has become an independent discipline in veterinary medicine some 50 years ago, the science and art of anesthesia and pain management in animals has made some major strides forward. In today’s world of multidisciplinary veterinary medicine increasingly more pets, but also horses and zoo- or wild-life animals receive care by veterinary experts specialized in soft tissue, orthopedic or neurosurgery, internal medicine, neurology, emergency and critical care medicine, radiology or diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy, interventional radiology, oncology, dentistry, ophthalmology, or dermatology. These veterinary specialists performing more and more complex procedures on animal patients rely even more so than the general veterinary practioner on sophisticated anesthesia techniques and pain management as integral part of their animal health care services. Thanks to targeted clinical and experimental research in the fields of veterinary anesthesiology, pain therapy, and intensive care medicine veterinary anesthesiologists are nowadays in the position to offer anesthesia care that hardly differs from techniques used in human medicine and is tailored to the needs of the individual patient, making it significantly safer and more efficient. Consequently, owners may rightfully expect their animals to receive high quality anesthesia and analgesia care delivered by veterinary personnel with sophisticated training in anesthesia.

The public awareness and expectation in both North-America and Europe has grown also in regard to the need for quality anesthesia and analgesia care in animals undergoing invasive experimental interventions. Here too, veterinary anesthesiologists can provide state-of-the art anesthesia services and help train members of the research team deliver appropriate anesthesia care tailored to the needs of each individual research project.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is tranquilization?

    Tranquilization is induced by certain drugs that induce in animals behavioral changes including relief of anxiety, relaxation, calming, and indifference to surroundings and personnel handling them, yet maintaining consciousness. A tranquilizer does not necessarily decrease awareness & wakefulness.

  • What is sedation?

    Sedation describes a state of central nervous system depression and drowsiness and is in many regards comparable to sleep. Many veterinary procedures including diagnostic and surgical procedures such as taking radiographic images and suturing the skin under local anesthesia, respectively require that animals hold still in a particular position for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Sedation is the use of a sedative or tranquilizing drug to help animals relax. Sedation in combination with analgesia (i.e. pain relief) is also used to help animals remain comfortable during painful procedures.

    There are several different levels of sedation:

    1. Minimal sedation: The animal is in a relaxed state in which it is awake and able to respond normally to commands.
    2. Moderate sedation: The animal is in and out of consciousness and is arousable by sound or touch.
    3. Deep sedation: The animal is unconscious and does not respond to sound or touch.

    Sedation medications are given by mouth, subcutaneously (injection under the skin), intramuscularly (injection into a muscle) or intravenously (into a vein).

    Note: In veterinary medicine a clear distinction between tranquilizers and sedatives is rather difficult and these drugs may act very differently in various animal species.

  • What is analgesia, what is an analgesic?

    Analgesia can be defined as the freedom from or absence of pain. Accordingly, an analgesic is a remedy that relieves or allays pain.

  • What is anesthesia?

    Anesthesia can be defined as the loss of sensation.

  • What is local anesthesia?

    Local anesthesia can be defined as the loss of sensation in a local body area.

  • What is loco-regional anesthesia?

    Loco-regional anesthesia can be defined as the loss of sensation in a larger but limited body area (for example limbs after spinal or epidural anesthesia or teeth after dental nerve blocks).

  • What is general anesthesia?

    General anesthesia describes a state of drug-induced reversible unconsciousness and analgesia, often in conjunction with loss of skeletal muscle tone, loss of short-term memory, and attenuated sensory, motor, and autonomic reflex activity.

  • What is pain?

    Experts of the International Association for the Study of Pain focusing on the human subject have defined pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Maybe more appropriate for animals, pain may be described using the wording of Malony & Kent who defined it as an aversive sensory and emotional experience representing awareness by the animal of damage or threat to the integrity of its tissues.

  • What is nociception and what is the difference to pain?

    Nociception refers to the peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) conduction and processing of information about the internal or external environment, as generated by the activation of nociceptors. Typically, noxious stimuli, including tissue injury, activate nociceptors that are present in peripheral sites such as the skin, joints, muscles, etc. and that transmit information from the body to the spinal cord or from sites in the head directly to one center in the brain. From those first “relays stations”, the information continues to higher centers in the brain and ultimately the cerebral cortex, where the perception of pain is generated. Pain is a product of higher brain center processing, whereas nociception can occur in the absence of pain. For example, the spinal cord of an animal that suffered a complete spinal cord transection can still process information transmitted by nociceptors, but because the information cannot be transmitted beyond the transection site stimulus-evoked pain is unlikely to occur. Also the appropriately anesthetized animal is unlikely to experience any pain, however, some nervous structures in the spinal cord and brain can still sense noxious stimuli from sites and respond to them with for example increases in heart beats and breaths. Therefore it is common practice in modern veterinary anesthesia as it is in human anesthesia to administer analgesics or loco-regional anesthesia and analgesia during general anesthesia.

  • What is a diplomate of the ACVAA or ECVAA?

    Diplomates of the American (ACVAA) or European College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ECVAA) are anesthesiologists who underwent a rigorous 3-year training program in veterinary anesthesia and analgesia, in which they learnt to deliver anesthesia in many different animal species and also in very sick, injured, pediatric, geriatric animals and to deal with complications should they occur. Following their training program they had to successfully pass a multi-step examination process covering the entire field of anesthesia, critical animal care and post-operative pain therapy before being awarded the title of diplomate of either college and recognized as board-certified specialist in veterinary anesthesia.

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