Veterinary technicians are relied upon for helping the veterinarian to complete various surgeries. The vet tech have many tasks that are associated with the surgery process. As a veterinary technician it is important to take every step in the surgical process very seriously. Remember, that is someones pet! Vet technicians can assist the veterinarian in many different types of surgery. Some surgery may be minor, while others can be very advanced. The amount of surgery that a vet technician assists with really depends on the particular veterinarian that the vet tech works with and the type of hospital that they work in. Some hospitals strictly specialize with surgery, while other hospitals do very little surgery. Either way, it is important for the vet tech to know the steps involved with the surgical process.
Before any surgical procedure it is important for the veterinarian to examine the patient and make sure that the patient is healthy enough for surgery. Often, the veterinary technician will need to draw blood before the procedure to run basic blood chemistry levels to make sure that there is not any compromised liver or kidney function. The veterinary technician will draw the blood and run the testing before the operation. The veterinary tech may also need to use an ECG machine to check for compromised heart function. Once the preoperative work up has been completed the animal will most likely be given a preanesthetic. The technician may be instructed to give the injection or the veterinarian may give it.
After a few minutes the technician will either hold the patient for the veterinarian to place an IV catheter, or the vet tech will place the IV catheter. Once the catheter has been placed, the patient will be given the anesthetic. At this point, the patient will have an endotracheal tube placed and will be put on to an anesthetic machine. After being placed on the anesthetic machine, the veterinary technician will shave and prep the surgical area on the patient. By prepping, the vet tech will ensure that the surgical area is completely sterile using a surgical scrub solution. Once the patient has been prepped, the vet tech will help to move the patient to the surgery table. At this point the patient will be hooked up to monitoring equipment. Typical monitoring equipment reads: blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level, ECG, and temperature. The veterinary technician will also attach and monitor IV fluids if needed.
Some surgeries may require the vet tech to scrub in and help the veterinarian with procedure. If the veterinarian can do the procedure alone, the vet tech will monitor all of the patients vitals minute to minute. The vet tech has a very important job in making sure that all of the patients vital signs stay within a normal range. It is up to the veterinary technician to alert the veterinarian of any changes and correct the anesthetic level as well as the fluid rate if needed. Keep in mind that sometimes surgery can last for several hours and will require a good amount of standing!
After the veterinarian has completed the surgery, the technician will continue to monitor the patient after the anesthetic has been cut off. Once the patient begins to awake, the technician will deflate and pull the endotracheal tube. The vet tech may also be required to administer any post-op injections or medications. The technician will also have the important job of monitoring the patient throughout the rest of their shift to make sure that the patient is doing well after the surgery.
Cleaning after surgery is another important aspect for a vet tech. Cleaning the surgical room is very important to keeping the area sterile. Most hospitals advice a “white-glove” test. Meaning, you should be able to pass a white-glove over any surface and the glove should stay white! For the vet tech this means thoroughly cleaning and mopping the entire surgery suite.
There will also be many surgical instruments (that may be bloody!) that need to be scrubbed clean, ran through an ultrasonic cleaner, and re-wrapped for the autoclave (sterilization machine). Most, if not all of these duties, will be handled by the veterinary technician. So although it seems like the veterinarian has the major job with surgical procedures, the vet tech has a large amount of work else well!