Tips & Advice
Are anesthesiologists medical doctors?
Yes, anesthesiologist complete four years of medical school plus additional training.
What are the different types of anesthesia?
There are three different types of anesthesia:
- Local anesthesia temporarily stops pain in a specific area. It is often used for local surgeries and administered via an injection and allows patients to remain conscious.
- Regional anesthesia stops pain in a large portion of the body, such as an arm or leg, while the patient remains conscious. Major types of regional anesthesia include:
- Peripheral nerve blocks: An anesthetic is injected near a bundle of nerves that transmit sensations from a specific area. For example, an anesthesiologist would administer a nerve block near a patient's arm to numb that entire area, allowing the surgeon to operate.
- Spinal anesthetic: The anesthetic is injected into the lower back near the spinal cord, causing the lower body to go numb. This type is most commonly used for orthopedic procedures and surgery in the rectal, pelvic, or abdominal regions.
- Epidural anesthetic: This is similar to a spinal anesthetic but is used primarily for labor/childbirth, and surgery of the lower limbs. Instead of an injection, the medication is administered through a thin catheter inserted into the area near the spinal cord.
- General anesthesia, which is either inhaled through a breathing mask/tube or administered via an IV line, causes the patient to fall completely unconscious.
What are the common procedures that an anesthesiologist performs?
Common procedures anesthesiologists perform include:
- Administering and managing anesthesia
- Managing and addressing changes in important life functions during surgery, including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing
- Diagnosing and treating medical problems that arise during and immediately after surgery
Does an anesthesiologist have to be board certified?
Anesthesiologist do not have to be board certified, although approximately 75 percent of them are. They must be licensed to practice within their state, however, and can obtain additional specialty certifications in critical care and pain management.
What is procedural sedation?
Procedural sedation, previously known as conscious sedation, is a process where a patient is given a sedative that reduces discomfort and awareness but does not result in a full sedation. This allows the patient to undergo uncomfortable procedures while still maintaining control over his or her breathing.
What is general anesthesia?
General anesthesia numbs the entire body. It is used during major surgeries such as those involving the brain, abdomen and heart. The medicine is either administered intravenously or inhaled through a breathing tube or mask.
What is local anesthesia?
Local anesthesia numbs the area around the injection site so the nerves do not transmit pain during surgery. It is primarily used for small surgeries such as wisdom teeth extraction.
Why are patients asked to not eat or drink before surgery?
Patients are asked not to eat or drink before surgery to minimize the risk of a pulmonary aspiration. This is when contents in the stomach, including food, drink, and vomit, are expelled into the lungs. Aspirations block the airway and cause significant damage; sometimes, they can be fatal.
Historically, anesthesiologists have banned patients from eating or drinking anywhere from eight to 12 hours before surgery. Now, many say this practice is overprotective. Patients should confirm with their doctors how long they should abstain from eating or drinking before an operation.
What is an anesthesiologist?
Anesthesiologists are doctors who care for patients undergoing surgery by formulating, measuring, and administering medications to manage their pain. Anesthesiologists complete four years of medical school and a three- or four-year residency in anesthesiology.
Anesthesiology is a medical practice focused on critical care and pain management before, during, and immediately after surgery.