When your pet comes in for an operation and we require to give them sedation or a general anaesthetic, there is a section on the anaesthetic consent form that asks the owner if they would like a pre anaesthetic blood profile ran before the anaesthetic – what’s that all about?
Well, when we give an animal sedation or a general anaesthetic, their blood pressure is artificially lowered for a period of time. This is the nature of the drugs used to induce anaesthesia and an integral part of how they work. When the blood pressure is lowered during this time, if your pet has a pre-existing problem, for example with their liver or kidneys, then this may get worse because of the effect of the anaesthetic.
The blood sample is taken on the morning of the anaesthetic before any drugs are given, and run on a machine at the vet practice, so we usually get results back within 20min. If there are no abnormalities, we go ahead with the operation as planned. If there are any concerns, we have to re-evaluate our plans on an individual basis. This may range from deciding to go ahead with the anaesthetic, but supporting the animals body systems with an IV drip – to postponing the planned procedure and monitoring the new found condition through repeated blood sampling and medication until the condition shows improvement.
Every animal is given a thorough pre anaesthetic medical examination, unfortunately many internal problems are not evident through physical examination in their early stages. In an ideal situation we would always give every animal a pre anaesthetic blood screen as it is the gold standard and best practice. Unfortunately a pre anaesthetic blood sample is an extra cost in an operation and we sometimes have to make compromises on an individual basis. A young, fit, healthy, animal has less likelihood of having an underlying medical problem, than a sick or older, geriatric animal. This is not always the case. Old animals bodies can be working away robustly and well, while young animals can have unexpected and alarming underlying organ problems.
For your peace of mind, the blood testing equipment at the practice is enrolled in an Idexx External Quality Assurance Scheme.