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Surgical Pain

December 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Surgical Pain

At Olathe Animal Hospital, we take great pride in making sure your pet’s pain is minimized as much as possible during any surgical procedure.  Pain not only makes your pet uncomfortable, but can actually slow down the healing process.  In order to achieve this goal, we take several steps before, during, and after your pet’s surgery.


We give a combination of drugs prior to your pet ever undergoing anesthesia.  This will often include a mild sedative, a drug to help maintain heart rate, as well as the pain medication.  Hydromorphone and buprenorphine are commonly used drugs for this purpose.  Both of these drugs are opioids, and are similar to morphine.  Buprenorphine lasts slightly longer but is not quite as potent.  We use this commonly for procedures that we do not expect to be very painful, such as a routine dental procedure.  Hydromorphone does not last as long but is very potent.  This is used in almost all spays, neuters, and non-elective procedures.  When these medications are given pre-emptively, we greatly decrease the pain sensation during and after surgery.  This also allows us to use less gas anesthesia, decreasing the risk of problems during anesthesia.


Epidurals are commonly used in human medicine for pain control.  Most women who have had a child are familiar with their use.  At Olathe Animal Hospital, we use epidurals for orthopedic procedures such as tibial tuberosity advancements (TTA), luxating patella repair, or fracture repair.  Epidurals can also be used for painful soft tissue surgeries as well.  Prior to surgery, a small patch of fur is shaved on your pet’s back just in front of the tail.  We surgically scrub the area and using sterile technique, administer the epidural just in front of the hips.

Constant Rate Infusions (CRI)

CRIs deliver a constant flow of very strong pain medication during and after the procedure.  We use a combination of hydromorphone, ketamine, and lidocaine to continuously deliver pain control to your pet.  CRIs are commonly used for orthopedic procedures, but can be used for any procedure that we expect to be extremely painful.

Local Nerve Blocks

Local nerve blocks are performed for tooth extractions, declaws, and a variety of other procedures.  Using a combination of lidocaine and bupivicaine, these nerve blocks begin working shortly after administered, and continue to work for several hours after the procedure is completed.

Post-operative pain control

After your pet’s procedure, we often administer a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help with pain in recovery.  This is given after your pet wakes up so that we eliminate any ill effects on blood pressure during anesthesia.  When your pet goes home, he or she will be sent with pain medication for use at home.  This may include an NSAID, tramadol, gabapentin, an opioid, or a combination thereof.  Prior to discharge, we review any instructions for the medications to make sure you are comfortable with their administration.


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