Caring for your anesthetic unit and veterinary dental monitoring equipment

Tips and tricks to ensure you don't ruin this essential, expensive equipment
source-image
Nov 01, 2011

Some years ago, I was asked to conduct an efficacy study comparing antibiotics when used in a pulse fashion (first five days of each month) vs. no antimicrobial use to control the progression of canine Stage 3 periodontal disease. In that study, the sponsoring company agreed to pay all fees related to dental care for those chosen for the study. There was little problem getting 90 clients to enroll their dogs. The plan was to anesthetize all patients every six months for clinical probing and radiographic evaluation.

Unfortunately, only seven completed the study, which was not statistically significant. Why so few? The pet owners were afraid of the anesthesia involved to properly evaluate the progression of disease, even though they were informed beforehand it would be required multiple times.

This experience reinforced my impression that it was primarily anesthetic concerns and not expense that controlled the apprehension surrounding dental care. Thus, attaining the best compliance required choosing the proper patient, selecting the right anesthetic protocol and monitoring the anesthetized patient properly with well-maintained equipment.

I soon found out purchasing "the best" anesthetic machine and monitoring system was not enough to ensure an excellent anesthetic experience. At the trade shows and out of the box, the monitors worked flawlessly—all the electrocardiogram tracings were large and bright, the audible beep was loud and regular and the pulse oximeter and end tidal carbon dioxide provided consistent readings.

Then about a month after purchase, I would look up at the large screen and could barely read the ECG, and the end tidal carbon dioxide volume alarm was constantly alerting. What was wrong with these units? After acquiring three other veterinary monitoring systems with the same results, the harsh reality set in. The problem with the units was not the manufacturer, it was us—how our staff took care of what we had. I hope what we learned can benefit others.