EPIDURAL and spinal anaesthesia was first reported in veterinary patients in the 1920s. It is usually carried out in animals as a preoperative measure to limit intraoperative nociception, abolish skeletal muscle tone and reduce anaesthetic requirements; this, in turn, facilitates a smoother recovery and a more rapid return to normal behaviour. The effects of epidural and spinal anaesthetics are more localised and more intense than systemically administered drugs. This article discusses how epidural and spinal anaesthesia is achieved in terms of its physiological effects and reviews the agents commonly used. It goes on to describe the techniques for epidural injection and catheter placement.
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