Epidural pain management

epidural needle

Epidural anaesthesia is routinely used in people undergoing surgery and here at Northwest Veterinary Specialists our team of anaesthesia experts also use these same techniques in dogs and cats.

Those painful pets under the care of our highly experienced team of anaesthetists benefit from the same level of comfort that you would expect in hospital.

Surgery is, of course, not without pain. We carefully plan each anaesthetic on an individual basis, tailoring the drugs we use to the needs of the pet. An epidural is a fantastic way to achieve an excellent degree of pain relief, not only for the duration of the surgery but also well into the recovery period and sometimes the following day. Our knowledge of pain physiology teaches us that keeping our pets pain free leads to much better outcomes.

Following surgery our aim is a speedy recovery – that means your pet should be comfortable, want to eat and able to perform the vast majority of their normal functions. Of course all drugs have side effects. By using a drug epidurally we avoid many of the side effects that we may see if we gave the drug direct into the bloodstream.

The technique us simple. Although it is common in people to perform an epidural before anaesthesia, it’s a bit too much to ask our dogs and cats to stay still for the needle! Once they are anaesthetised, we place the epidural needle and perform the injection. The needle directs the drugs close to the spinal cord, which is where we want it to act. Many of the pain killers (analgesics or anaesthetics) we use act on the spinal cord to prevent the pain signals reaching the brain. We use a number of drugs depending on the situation and can vary how long each epidural lasts based on drug selection.

Our specialist anaesthetists like to stay at the forefront of research in this area and also play a role in teaching vets and nurses about the benefits of epidurals. Experts Matt Gurney & Liz Leece authored this review article, published in the journal of the Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists, Veterinary Anaesthesia & Analgesia.

If you would like your pet to benefit from the skills of our specialist anaesthetists and surgeons you can ask your vet for a referral to Northwest Veterinary Specialists.

Did you know we also run a specialist pain clinic for pets?