Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic is pleased to offer Epidural Analgesia and Anesthesia for patients undergoing major surgery. An “Epidural” is when we very carefully inject a drug into the space around the spinal cord to prevent the patient from experiencing pain during or after a major surgery. We find them particularly helpful in cases that are potentially quite painful such as orthopedic surgery (fixing broken bones, cruciate ligament repairs).
There are two types of drugs which are commonly used in epidural anesthesia. First, analgesics or pain killers which work on the pain receptors in the spinal cord to prevent pain messages from travelling up the spinal cord (analgesia) and second local anesthetics that make the patient (temporarily) numb from the point of the injection backwards (anesthesia).
Epidurals offer many advantages. First, as any woman who has received an epidural during childbirth can tell you, they provide profound pain relief! Second, because they provide such good pain relief, the patient will require significantly lower levels of inhaled anesthetic during the surgery making the whole process safer for your pet. Thirdly, depending on the medications used in the epidural, the pain relief lasts throughout recovery and for several hours afterwards letting the pet wake up comfortable and pain free from major surgery. As the epidural wears off, the patient is transitioned to other methods of pain relief such as oral or injectable pain relievers. Finally, research shows that by preventing the pet from experiencing pain initially, the pain pathways are less likely to become sensitized. This means that the pet will likely experience less pain after the surgery and any discomfort that does develop will be easier to control. In other words, it is better to prevent the patient from experiencing pain in the first place rather than trying to treat pain after the pet is already showing signs of pain or discomfort.