Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Alicia M. Karas

Anesthesia, Pain Medicine

Anesthesia

A veterinary anesthesiologist, pain specialist, and animal welfare scientist,Dr. Alicia Karas has dedicated her career to the alleviation of pain in animals. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists.

Dr. Karas graduated from Tufts Veterinary School in 1989 and for several years worked in small animal and exotic practice in North Carolina and Texas prior to returning to Tufts to do a residency in anesthesiology. She developed an interest in pain medicine at a time when the field was still developing, and stayed at Tufts for a number of reasons: a love of New England, the Cummings School's commitment to animal and human welfare, and her husband's post at Tufts Medical School.

Dr. Karas started an elective on pain management in 1994 for DVM students and residents, and, along with her anesthesia section colleagues, brought many of the lectures into the school's core curriculum. She uses video often in her lectures to illustrate various indicators of pain in many species.

At the Cummings School, Dr. Karas teaches anesthesia and pain medicine delivery for both companion and laboratory animal populations. She is always examining ways to assess pain and improve quality-of-life, either in the clinic or through her research. This includes reducing the pain of examinations by using skillful sedation, meeting postoperative needs for pain control and treating chronic pain. What I love about teaching is the ability to share this vision of making hospital visits and everyday life as comfortable and fulfilled as possible, she says. There are so many ways to do this—our clinicians and technicians work to diagnose and cure illness; along with that goes the experience of being cared for.

In her free time, Dr. Karas and her husband enjoy spending time with their two charismatic black Labradors, who participate in obedience competitions. She brings her love of observation and positive reward for pets to her work—most remarkably by motivating a cat with severely disabled front paws to begin using them again if he touchedhis owner's hand for a treat.

Education

  • DVM - Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine - 1989
  • MS - Tufts School of Nutrition - 1985
  • BA - Harvard University - 1981

Board Certification

  • American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists
  1. Weaver LA, Blaze CA, Linder D, Andrutis KA, Karas AZ. A Model for Clinical Evaluation of Perioperative Analgesia in the Rabbit. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci 49(6):845-851, 2010.

  2. Abelson A, McCobb EM, Shaw S, Armitage-Chan E, Wetmore LA, Karas AZ, Blaze CA. Use of wound soaker catheters for the administration of local anesthetic for post-operative analgesia: 56 cases. Vet Anaesth Analg. 36(6):597-602, 2009.

  3. Abelson A, Faissler D, Karas A. Anesthesiology Case of the Month., J Am Vet Med Assoc 232(9):1298-1300, 2008.

  4. Karas, AZ. Barriers to Assessment and Treatment of Pain. Lab Animal, 35(7):38-45, 2006.

General Research Interests

  • Pain medicine, refinement research

Selected Research Projects

  • Evidence-based surgical analgesia in the laboratory rabbit
  • Evaluation of surgical analgesia in the laboratory mouse
  • Effects of Bowen on stress in hospitalized dogs
  • Nest behavior as an indicator of well-being in laboratory mice

Teaching

  • Anesthesiology & Pain Management
  • An Introduction to Animal Welfare
  • Animals in Society: Research

Research Interests by Area

Pain Management and Alternatives
  • Evidence-based surgical analgesia in laboratory animals, pharmacokinetics of analgesic drugs in dogs, Analgesia, pain medication, complementary medicine, laboratory animals
Spontaneous Animal Disease Models
  • Chronic pain in animals, post-operative pain