Elisabetta Mancinelli

  • Webinar recorded on Sat 21st January, 2017
  • 0 hours 43 mins
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The aim of a general anaesthetic is to provide adequate restraint to allow examination, minor or surgical procedures, to obtain muscle relaxation, and appropriate pain relief. A recent study reported an overall peri-anaesthetic mortality rate of healthy pet rabbits much higher than in dogs and cats. Anaesthetising rabbits can be challenging but the risks can be minimised and mortality decreased, increasing the chances of a positive outcome. Rabbits are prey species and they are masters at disguising signs of disease. They are therefore often presented in advanced stage of illness. Careful pre-anaesthetic evaluation is essential, including detailed history, complete physical examination and minimum laboratory database to provide useful information on the health status of the patient. Factors, such as the presence of underlying disease, husbandry and diet, lack of confidence and expertise of staff involved, anatomical and physiological differences compared to more common species, drug dosages, adequate pain relief and post-anaesthetic care, which may complicate an anaesthetic procedure, should be also taken into consideration. Unhealthy animals should be stabilised before an anaesthetic (e.g. fluid therapy started to correct dehydration, assisted feeding commenced in anorectic patients, antibiotic administered if required and pain relief provided) and the care should be continued in the post-anaesthetic period. In any case involving an anaesthetic, it is always important to be prepared in advance to reduce handling and stress and to avoid any waste of precious time in case of an emergency. Patient monitoring during an anaesthetic is essential. An assistant must be available to constantly monitor adequate anaesthesia level, response to painful stimuli, and vital parameters. The principles of anaesthesia monitoring are not different compared to those used in dogs and cats and the availability of more advanced equipment such as oesophageal stethoscope, Doppler monitor, electrocardiogram (ECG), capnograph, pulse oximeter, mechanical ventilator and blood gas analysis greatly enhances the chances of positive results.

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