What Is Anesthesiology?

Anesthesiology is the branch of medicine that deals with providing relief to patients who are in pain. More specifically, it deals with the total care of patients who are going to undergo a surgical operation. As such, the medical professionals who have received specific training and are certified in the field of anesthesiology will provide care to patients before, during and after surgery. The medicine that is administered to patients undergoing surgical operation to prevent them from feeling any pain is called anesthesia.

Anesthesia isn’t only confined to patients who are going under the knife. Certain non-invasive procedures may also require the administration of this medication. For example, patients who need to go through tests like endoscopy or colonoscopy may need to be anesthetized. Children who are going to undergo minor procedures that an adult would be able to handle without any pain-numbing agents may also need to be administered anesthesia so the procedure can be safely carried out.

There are actually different methods of anesthesia that are used on patients who are going to undergo various medical procedures. The most common type is known as general anesthesia. This is the kind of anesthesia given to patients who are set to undergo major operations like heart surgery, brain surgery or other abdominal surgical operations. This type of anesthesia puts the patient asleep the entire time so that he is not conscious of anything. During these types of operations, an anesthesiologist must constantly monitor the patient’s vital signs like his blood pressure and pulse rate and make the necessary adjustments to the anesthesia doses depending on what the patient’s condition is while on the operating table.

If general anesthesia is not needed, sedation techniques may be employed instead. This method involves administering anesthesia to sedate the patient at different levels. Depending on how invasive the procedure is, the patient can be sedated lightly, moderately or deeply. For obvious reasons, light sedation is employed for less invasive operations. In this kind of sedation technique, the anesthesia administered only has a minimal effect on the person’s internal organs like the heart. The doctors can also easily wake the person up after the operation is over. Patients under deep sedation may have to be awakened utilizing stimulation methods. They may also have to be given assistance to be able to breathe.

Regional anesthesia is another method of anesthesia wherein a local anesthetic is used to block nerves in a particular area of the body. Women giving birth via caesarian section are given regional anesthesia. Those who are also getting replacements for their hips or knees are also candidates for this anesthesia method.

A certain type of regional anesthesia administered in the patient’s epidural space in the spine is known as an epidural anesthesia. This entails placing a catheter in the epidural space through which the anesthesia is injected via a needle. Since this kind of anesthesia is given for lengthy operations, the catheter is left in place so that the patient is given more medication if this is needed. Spinal anesthesia is the alternative to an epidural. In this procedure, no catheter is necessary since the injection is given straight into spinal fluid in the lower area of the back. It is often used for surgical procedures involving the urinary tract, the genitals and generally, surgical operations in the lower areas of the body.

Although both epidural and spinal anesthesia methods are relatively safer compared to general anesthesia, it still poses some risks. These include allergic reactions, hematoma surrounding the spinal column, meningitis and nerve damage, among others.

Career Spotlight: Anesthesiologist

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