Camelids are becoming more common in general practice and so an understanding of anaesthesia techniques is becoming more important. The same techniques used in other species can be adapted and used in camelids including both local and general anaesthesia.
As in other species, the use of local agents at surgical sites is commonly used for such procedures as abdominocentesis, abscess lancing and lacerations. However, regional blocks are used less commonly due to the lack of knowledge where nerves are located, although inverted L blocks can be used to prevent wound healing problems sometimes seen with local anaesthestic infiltrations on flank sites.
Epidurals can be used for various surgical procedures in the perineal as well as relaxation for rectal palpation or prolapse replacement. As in any species, the site should be surgically prepared and the needle is inserted at the sacrococcygeal intervertebral space.
General anaesthesia can be produced in camelids by using combinations of injectable and gaseous agents, like in other species.
Patients should be starved for up to 24 hours before elective surgery with water removed 8-12 hours before also. As in horses, the mouth should be washed out to remove any debris that may be passed down into the respiratory tract upton endotracheal intubation. Endotracheal intubation is difficult in camelids as it is difficult to visualise and it is important to make sure that laryngeal reflexes are absent before attempting to intubate. Intubation can be performed blind, with a laryngoscope or with the use of a catheter passed into the larynx over which the endotracheal tube is passed. The head needs to be maximally extended to aid passage of the tube.
Camelids can be placed in any position although thought should be used to minimise the risk of complications. When in left lateral recumbancy, regurgitation is more likely then when the patient is in right lateral recumbancy. Appropriate padding should be used to minimise risk of development of postsurgical paralysis. Dorsal recumbancy should be avoided if possible, unless endotracheal intubation is possible, as the abdominal contents pushes forward onto the diaphragm and lungs restricting thoracic movement, thereby restricting breathing and cardiac output.