An investigation carried out at CEU-UCH is second-best worldwide, according to the Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists


The research on canine anaesthetic mortality carried out at CEU-UCH by professors José Ignacio Redondo and Laura Gil was published in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia, worldwide the most important journal in the field

Ron Jones, Professor Emeritus at Liverpool University, and AVA's Honorary Fellow, with professors Redondo and Gil.
Ron Jones, Professor Emeritus at Liverpool University, and AVA’s Honorary Fellow, with professors Redondo and Gil.

The Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists at its conference from September 24 to 26 in Vienna has grant awards to the three best research papers of the world in the academic field of veterinary anesthetics. The Wiley-Blackwell award has been granted at this year’s edition of the congress to a paper titled ‘Canine anaesthetic death in Spain: a multicentre prospective cohort study of 2012 cases’, the result of an investigation carried out at the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery of CEU Cardenal Herrera University (CEU-UCH) by José Ignacio Redondo and Laura Gil, researchers at, respectively, CEU-UCH and Valencia Catholic University (UCV).

Redondo and Gil are the authors of the first research paper on anaesthesia-related mortality in dogs in Spain. It was published in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia, worldwide the most important journal in the field. The Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists, which at the moment celebrates its 50th anniversary, will grant the first and third prizes to research teams from, respectively, the University of Wisconsin and Brazilian Universidade de São Paulo.

High anaesthetic mortality rate in dogs

The investigation, carried out at CEU-UCH by Redondo and Gil, looks at 2,012 cases of death in canines, from 39 veterinary clinics and hospitals all over Spain. Most of these are members of the Spanish Society of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia (SEAAV), which cooperated in the research. The results indicate that in Spain the mortality rate in dogs from the moment the anaesthesia is administered until 24 hours after extubation is 1.29%, a remarkably high number. The average mortality rate due to anaesthesia in small animals in other countries, like the United Kingdom, the United States or Canada, lies between 0.1 and 0.2%.

CEU-UCH professor Redondo nuances. “The definition of anaesthesia-related mortality is not equal in researches carried out in different countries, which is why it is risky to directly compare the figures.” Gil, professor at UCV, adds that “in our investigation, which looked at cases in Spain, the amount of high-risk patients before medical intervention was 25 percent of the total, while in investigations carried out in other countries this number varies from 4 to 7 percent.”

77% percent of the deaths that were included in the investigation carried out at CEU-UCH took place after surgery, and not while administering anaesthesia. Half of all deaths took place in the first three hours after administering anaesthesia. That is why professor Redondo emphasizes the importance of monitoring dogs that were administered anaesthesia for at least 24 hours after the intervention. “People tend to erroneously think that the effects of anaesthesia stop when the animal wakes up and is extubated,” he says. “Therefore, in many cases, though without justification, they stop monitoring the animal.”

Protecting effect of pain killers

The research, which is Gil’s doctoral thesis, provides proof of what researchers had been suspecting for some time but had not been able to confirm yet: certain pain killers (opioids and NSAIDs), if administered before and after interventions that require the use of anaesthesia, can reduce the mortality rate in dogs. According to Gil, “we discovered that apart from their therapeutic, sedative effect, pain killers can contribute to reducing anaesthesia-related mortality in dogs.” Stabilizing the animal’s vital signs before administering anaesthesia likewise has been found to reduce the risk of death.

The majority of dogs that were included in the investigation were, either, of mixed breeds, or, Yorkshire terriers, German shepherds, Cocker Spaniels and poodles. The medical interventions to which they were subjected were minor surgeries, abdominal, orthopedic or thoracic surgeries, or diagnostic tests that require anesthetizing the animal so that the veterinary team can adequately carry out its work.

International impact

The team headed by Redondo at CEU-UCH, apart from being the only one in Spain that studies anaesthesia-related mortality in small animals, is renowned for its research into anaesthetic complications in small animals. The team, called ‘Avances en Anestesia, Analgesia y Monitorización’ in Spanish, is linked to both the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at CEU-UCH.


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