Placing Wound Soaker Catheters in Dogs


Marc Hirshenson, DVM, DACVS

A collaborative column between the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) and dvm360 magazine

ot familiar with wound soaker catheters? You’ll want to be. They are easy to place and remove and can simplify your local pain control regimen for some surgical patients. There’s no doubt that the implementation of appropriate analgesic protocols is a vital component of both routine and specialised veterinary surgical care. Traditional nerve blocks with local anaesthetics are beneficial in decreasing systemic analgesic requirements  of opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications frequently used in the peri-operative and post-operative period. Local nerve blocks require technical expertise and additionally, these medications, namely lidocaine and bupivacaine, have relatively short durations of action.

Enter wound infusion catheters (also known as wound soaker or diffusion catheters), which deliver local analgesia to or around a surgical site by using repeated or continuous infusion. The use of these catheters in veterinary medicine has increased with better understanding of and focus on pain management in our patients. Wound soaker catheters are easily placed during surgery, assist in providing local analgesia for a prolonged period, and potentially decrease the need for systemic medications.

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