make Vet Answers my homepage

Veterinary Anaesthetic Risks - When Complacency Sets In

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Oct 11th 2016 - By By Dr Gerardo Poli, Director Animal Emergency Services
Veterinary Anaesthetic Risks When Complacency Sets In

A decrease in adverse events in veterinary anaesthesia can lead to an increased risk of complacency.

Anaesthesia in veterinary medicine has advanced by leaps and bounds over the years. Nowadays, most progressive practices conduct anaesthesia using multimodal drug protocols and multi-parameter monitoring. Generally, adverse events during anaesthesia in otherwise young and healthy patients are a rare occurrence.

However, with the decrease incidence of adverse events comes an increased risk of complacency, on the part of the veterinary team.  Take the following case as an example.

Case Study: The Balloon Kitty

The patient was a young and healthy cat that underwent a routine dental prophylaxis procedure at her vet practice. A few days after the procedure, she developed respiratory difficulties and presented to my emergency clinic. She was diagnosed as having severe subcutaneous emphysema, most likely from a tracheal wall compromise that would have occurred as an adverse event from tracheal intubation. Everyone knows that we need to handle cats very gently while they are intubated as their tracheas are nowhere near as robust as their canine counterparts. 

Over inflating the cuff can also be a cause of tracheal necrosis, however what we think happened was that this patient was re-positioned during the dental procedure and the endotracheal tube was twisted in the process, causing either ischaemic compromise to a portion of the trachea or direct damage to the trachea. 

Click here to watch a video on Facebook for more details...

The key lesson here is to always make sure the tube is secure to prevent movement.

Thankfully, this patient made a full recovery, but this case certainly highlights that we must never be complacent when it comes to handling our anaesthesia cases. Low incidence does not mean no incidence, and individualised anaesthetic plans, along with in-depth training for the anaesthetist (who most often are the veterinary technicians and nurses), will help reduce the chances of adverse events occurring. 

If you have a question for Gerardo on this case study, just add them to the Comments section below.

About Gerardo

Dr Gerardo Poli is an emergency and critical care veterinarian and company Director at Animal Emergency Services.  He has a strong focus in the triage, stabilisation and management of critically ill patients, small animal ultrasound and radiology and emergency surgery.

He is the author of The Mini Vet Guide To Companion Animal Medicine; a pocket sized, quick-reference guide designed to help veterinary students through their final years of vet school and also for recently graduated veterinarian making the transition into vet clinical practice. 

Find out more about The MiniVet Guide to Companion Animal Medicine by visitng the website:

Or visit the Facebook Page:

You can also find out more about the Animal Emergency Service in Brisbane here:


There are currently no comments.

Add Your Comments

All comments will be submitted to the administrator for approval.

To prevent spam, please type in the code found in the red box to verify you are a real person.
  Required fields

Blog Categories


Recent Blog Entries


Tag Cloud

follow us on twitter