The term anesthesia historically refers to the reversible loss of consciousness or sensation to facilitate performing painful procedures such as surgery. The field of anesthesiology has developed into a unique specialty that now encompasses multimodal balanced techniques to provide sedation, immobility, unconsciousness, muscle relaxation and many ways to control and eliminate pain.

Patients undergoing surgery or various medical procedures require anesthesia for safe care. The anesthesia team (consisting of a board certified anesthesiologist, specialized, dedicated anesthesia technicians, and fourth-year clinical veterinary students) creates and implements a customized anesthetic and pain management plan for each individual patient. The team reviews all the pertinent information (including complete medical history, blood work, imaging and physical exam) to tailor the plan to the patient and the necessary procedure.

Once a plan has been approved by the anesthesiologist, a fourth-year student and a technician work together to provide dedicated individualized care to each patient. They closely monitor the patient from initial sedation through recovery to address all aspects of the patient’s well being and correct any complications that may arise. This includes general anesthesia, the administration of local or regional analgesic drugs, and intraoperative and postoperative medications. The anesthesiologist supervises during the entire process as well, providing educational support, and updating patient management plans as needs arise.

After the patient has recovered from anesthesia, the primary service or the ICU team will then maintain support for the patient’s medical needs.