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Anesthesia Service

The NC State Veterinary Hospital (VH) strives to provide safe and humane care to all animals accepted for treatment. One way this is accomplished is through the administration of anesthetic agents. Anesthesia is used extensively in the practice of veterinary medicine, not only for surgical procedures but to minimize animal stress. Many VH services administer anesthesia in order to safely and humanely facilitate diagnostic or minor surgical procedures. All graduate veterinarians employed by the VH are qualified to prescribe and administer anesthetic agents to animals under their care by virtue of their professional training and their licensure by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is anesthesia service?

In difficult cases or where extensive diagnostics are anticipated, the Anesthesia Service may be requested by the attending clinician to provide anesthetic care for the animal. One of the primary goals of the VH Anesthesia Service is to provide quality patient care in a learning environment that is highly motivating to veterinary students and staff.

The Anesthesia Service is comprised of 4 faculty anesthesiologists, 3 residents, 9 anesthesia technicians, and 1 assistant. Anesthesiologists are licensed veterinarians with postgraduate training and specialty board certification in the anesthetic care of animals. The anesthesiologists set patient care standards and oversee quality control for the Anesthesia Service. Anesthesia technicians are licensed veterinary technicians with extensive experience and advanced training in the administration of anesthetic agents. The Anesthesia Service provides anesthesia care to approximately 3,400 patients each year.

Who administers anesthesia?

The patient is assigned either to a professional veterinary student or an anesthesia technician for review of the medical record. A specific care plan is created taking into account the procedure to be performed and the underlying health status of the patient. All patient anesthesia plans are approved by an anesthesiologist or are in accordance with anesthesiologist-approved standard protocols. Anesthetic agents may be administered, either by an anesthesia technician or by a veterinary student, under the general supervision of the anesthesiologist and attending VH veterinarian.

How is the anesthesia given?

There are many different ways to produce and maintain anesthesia. In most cases, anesthesia is started by an intravenous injection so that the patient becomes unconscious quickly, and subsequently maintained using inhalation anesthesia agents. Relief of stress and pain are important components of anesthesia, and methods are chosen to minimize stress and discomfort both prior to surgery and during the recovery period. A veterinary student or a technician stays with each patient until they are awake and comfortable, at which time they are returned to the attending service for follow-up care.

How much will anesthesia cost?

Because anesthesia fees are based on the costs of the materials used and the amount of time that the patient is under anesthesia, the exact cost can be difficult to predict. The VH veterinarian has attempted to estimate costs based on their assessment of the most likely progress of the case. We encourage owners to discuss any specific concerns they may have regarding cost with their VH veterinarian.

Isn't anesthesia risky?

It is true that all medical procedures have some degree of risk. The amount of risk depends on the type of diagnostic or surgical procedure being performed and the medical condition of the patient. Generally, risk is lowest in healthy animals undergoing uncomplicated procedures. Anesthetic risk can be reduced through preoperative planning, vigilant patient monitoring, and experience. We encourage owners to discuss any specific concerns they may have regarding patient anesthesia with their VH veterinarian.

What is the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA)?

The ACVAA is the anesthesiology specialty board of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The ACVAA sets the standards for advanced professionalism in anesthesiology for the veterinary profession. Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the certification and testing requirements of the ACVAA are called Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia and have earned the right to be called specialists in veterinary anesthesiology.


Dr. Lysa Posner, DVM, DACVAA, Associate Professor

Dr. Nigel Campbell, Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Kate Bailey, DVM, DACVAA, Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr Kristen Messenger, DVM, DACVAA, DACVP, Lecturer