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Surgical Services

Through the use of cutting-edge technology and the most up-to-date equipment and instruments, the surgery suite at the Animal Health Center of Port St Lucie is designed to accommodate surgical procedures from spays and neuters to more complicated soft-tissue and emergency surgeries. We know that surgical procedures can be stressful for both you and your pet. We use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, modern anesthetic procedures and a staff of trained, experience technicians, all of which make your pet's surgical procedure as safe and comfortable as possible. When inhalation (gas) anesthesia is required, we use the same up-to-date anesthetics as human hospital use. 

Our veterinary surgeons are capable of performing a number of surgeries, from routine procedures such as spay/neuters and mass removals to more complicated surgeries, including eye surgeries, cystotomies, exploratory abdominal surgery, splenectomies, and gastrotomies, to name a few. If necessary, your pet also has access to a board-certified veterinary surgeon for consultations.

Before Surgery

All pets respond differently to anesthesia. Before surgery, your pet undergoes a thorough physical examination. Laboratory tests may be performed to identify any existing medical conditions. This information is used to identify any pre-existing conditions that may complicate the use of anesthesia. We develop an anesthetic protocol that is unique to your pet and tailored to your pet's individual needs. Our veterinarians are assisted by certified and experienced veterinary technicians and assistants who have decades of experience and receive continuing education on a regular basis. Working alongside the surgeons, they keep a very close watch on our patients and the monitoring equipment.

Safety During and After Surgery

During the surgical procedure we routinely use equipment to measure oxygen concentration in the blood with a pulse oximeter. We use heated surgery tables to keep your pet warm and comfortable during each procedure. ECG (electrocardiograph), blood pressure, core body temperature and other vital signs are continually monitored with advanced electronic equipment during your pet's entire anesthetic period. Fluid therapy is also often utilized. All of these safeguards help to provide a faster and more comfortable recovery. After surgery, your pet is continually monitored until he or she is fully awake. In the vast majority of cases, your pet will leave the hospital alert and fully ambulatory.

Pain Management & Comfort of Your Pet 

You pet's safety and comfort during surgery are very important to us. At Animal Health Center, we utilize a series of anesthetic protocols and pain management guidelines designed to keep your pet comfortable and free of stress during surgical procedures. Pets experience the same degrees of pain as people do following surgery, but they cannot express it to us. Therefore, pain management must be strategically planned and tailored to your pet's procedure and implemented to minimize the degree of pain your pet experiences.

Pain management is an important part of our procedures and we provide intensive assessment and management before, during, and after a surgical procedure. Pain control medication will usually be dispensed to your pet to help control pain in the post-operative period, and these instructions should be followed, even if your pet doesn't "seem" like he or she needs it. Good pain management helps speed healing and recovery! We encourage you to discuss pain management options with our 
veterinarians as well as any questions you may have about your pet's 
surgery and post-surgical recovery.

Pain Management Techniques

Our Pets Feel Pain Like We Do

Pain management in veterinary medicine has often been only a minor concern in the overall care for our companion animals. The perception for far too long has been that they “don’t feel pain” like people or that certain elective procedures were “minor” or likely to cause only minimal discomfort. What research and observations over the years have come to prove is that our patients do perceive pain much the same as humans, but it is our poor means of evaluating pain that has led us to mistakenly believe that they “tolerate” pain better than we do.

Unmanaged Pain Can Slow Recovery

Our companion animals have instinctive behaviors that cause them to hide their pain from outward observation (think about nature – the strong survive and the weak or injured become lunch) so we must think proactively when it comes to pain management. To put it simply, if a surgical event would be painful for a human, then we should expect a similar level of pain to occur in our patients too. Our goal is to prevent pain when possible and if we can’t prevent it, then we should take steps to minimize its effects on our patients. Research has shown that unmanaged pain is a significant impediment to a speedy recovery for any surgical event.

Don’t confuse anesthesia with pain control. Anesthetic drugs are used to induce a state of unconsciousness where the brain is unable to sense the pain signals that the body is sending it. Most anesthetic drugs do very little for managing pain after they wear off and the patient wakes up. The surgical event, while not sensed by the patient under anesthesia, still causes biochemical changes to occur in the body in response to injury. It is those biochemical changes and the transmission of signals to the brain that elicits a painful sensation once recovered from anesthesia.

New Strategies To Help Your Pet

In an effort to provide the highest level of pain relief for our surgical patients, we have adopted a variety of new strategies for the administration of pain-relieving drugs. We are taking a more active role in preventing pain by administering drugs before the surgical procedure, during surgery, and post-operative all in an effort to minimize the transmission of pain, perception of pain, and the biochemical changes that cause painful sensations in the post-operative recovery period. While not all procedures may need all of the techniques we have at our disposal, we will employ whatever means necessary to preempt and treat pain on an individual basis.

Pain Management Before The Surgical Procedure

We routinely use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to block the cascade of inflammatory events that occur due to surgical procedures. If we can minimize the biochemical changes associated with tissue trauma, we will minimize the ongoing sensation of pain post-operative. We will also use drugs that act directly on the central nervous system’s pain pathways, providing pain relief by reducing the body’s ability to perceive pain. These drugs provide a sedative effect and make the transition to anesthesia a much less stressful event. Prior to surgery (but usually after anesthesia is induced) local anesthetic nerve blocks are often used to prevent the transmission of pain from the surgical site to the brain. This local anesthetic will provide a “numb” sensation at the surgical site so during recovery there is less perceived pain.

Pain Management During Surgery

We can also administer analgesics such as Torbugesic, local anesthetics and dissociative anesthetic products.  This is advantageous because it keeps a steady-state level of pain relievers in the system during surgery, reducing the amounts of anesthetic drugs required to maintain the desired level of unconsciousness as well as reducing the nervous system’s ability to transmit pain signals to the brain and spinal cord. This has the added benefit of reducing the painful sensations felt upon recovery from anesthesia and reducing patient stress during this transition period.

Post-Op Pain Management

During the immediate post-operative phase, these drugs continued to provide pain relief and to make recovery from anesthesia as smooth as possible. We assess each patient’s need for additional analgesics using a standardized observation protocol and address the need for additional pain control techniques. We can administer additional pain control medications, sedatives and local anesthetics as needed to assure the most comfortable recovery possible for our surgical patients. When it is time to release our patients back to their families, we will dispense medications that can be safely administered orally for continued pain relief at home.

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