The American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists has updated its guidelines for monitoring anesthetized veterinary patients. The document now includes sections on body temperature, neuromuscular blockade, and recovery period as well as a section on monitoring sedated patients.
The ACVA developed its original recommendations on anesthetic monitoring in 1994, and the JAVMA published them in 1995. The old and new guidelines cover the topics of circulation, oxygenation, ventilation, record keeping, and personnel.
The benchmark for measuring a successful anesthetic outcome has shifted from a lack of anesthetic mortality toward a decrease in anesthetic morbidity, according to the ACVA statement prefacing the 2009 guidelines. More objective definition and earlier detection of pathophysiologic conditions such as hypotension, hypoxemia, and severe hypercapnia have facilitated the shift toward minimizing anesthetic morbidity. Skillful, attentive personnel have incorporated newer monitoring methods during anesthesia.
The ACVA recognizes that it is possible to monitor and manage anesthetized patients without special equipment and that some of the methods in the guidelines could be impractical in certain clinical settings. The ACVA does not suggest that using any or all the recommended methods will ensure any specific patient outcome or that failure to use them will result in poor outcome. The goal of the ACVA guidelines is to improve anesthesia care for veterinary patients.
The updated recommendations for anesthetic monitoring are available from the ACVA Web site at www.acva.org by scrolling over "Professional Links" and then selecting "Position Statements" from the drop-down menu.