Why is surgical monitoring important?
Monitoring animal vital signs during a procedure provides insight into animal health and enables the researcher to identify and intervene when problems arise, resulting in more consistent surgeries.
Anesthetics induce central nervous system, cardiovascular system and respiratory depression in animals. Without careful monitoring, cardiac output and respiration may be lost. Anesthetics also inhibit temperature regulation centers in the brain, and hypothermia reduces platelet function, lowers cardiac output and enhances bradycardia and cardiac respiratory depression. Monitoring vital signs such as heart rate, core temperature and respiration rate are essential to animal wellbeing, especially to ensure full recovery from a surgery.
These physiological parameters may also influence the quality of data collected during an experiment. For example, vascular and ventricular pressure measured with catheters can be compromised if animal physiology changes due to the surgical intervention. Monitoring vital signs can ensure the animal is in stable condition prior to initiating data collection.
Identifying vital sign abnormalities also enables researchers to intervene when problems arise and improve surgical outcomes. For example, a sudden increase in respiration rate or heart rate can be a cue the animal is not sufficiently anesthetized, and ECG abnormalities may indicate infarction. When this data is available, the researcher can take steps to restore physiological function and reduce complications.