Commonly Asked Questions
Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.
The education of today's anesthesiologists has kept pace with their expanding role in offering the highest quality health care available anywhere in the world. After completing a four-year college program and four years of medical school, they enter a four-year anesthesiology residency training program. Fellowships in an anesthesia subspecialty and in education or research may also be taken for an additional year.
An estimated 40 million anesthetics are administered each year in this country. Anesthesiologists provide or participate in more than 90 percent of these anesthetics. In the operating room, they are responsible for the medical management and anesthetic care of the patient throughout the duration of the surgery. The anesthesiologist must carefully match the anesthetic needs of each patient to that patient's medical condition, responses to anesthesia and the requirements of the surgery.
Are there different typEs of anesthesia?
Yes. There are three main types of anesthesia: local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, and general anesthesia. Each has many forms and uses.
In local anesthesia, the anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb the specific location of your body having minor surgery, (for example, the hand or foot).
In regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist injects near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake or you may be given a sedative. Either way, you will not see or feel the actual surgery take place. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia. Two of the most frequently used are spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia, which are produced by injections made with great exactness into the appropriate areas of the back. Both are typically used during childbirth and prostate surgery.
With general anesthesia, you are unconscious and have no awareness or sensation. General anesthetic drugs include gases and vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and medications introduced through a vein. During anesthesia, your anesthesiologist will carefully monitor and control your major bodily functions via sophisticated equipment. A breathing tube may be inserted through your mouth and frequently into the windpipe to maintain proper breathing during this period. The length and level of anesthesia is calculated and constantly adjusted with great precision. At the conclusion of surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the process and you will regain consciousness in the recovery room.
Can I eat or drink prior to my anesthesia procedure?
As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before a surgery. In certain cases, the anesthesiologist may give a patient permission to drink clear liquids up to a few hours before the anesthesia procedure.
Should I take my usual medicines?
Some medications can and should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this issue with your surgeon or anesthesiologist thoroughly to prevent any adverse effects. Do not interrupt any medication unless your anesthesiologist or surgeon specifically recommends it.