Last updated date: 21-Aug-2023
Originally Written in English
Anesthesiology: All You Need To Know
A surgical procedure is often associated with acute to severe and unbearable pain. This usually makes the patient uncomfortable and unable to remain calm during the treatment. Eventually, it interferes with the entire procedure and can also cause other health issues such as fainting and sometimes death.
However, anesthesiology is designed to help both the patients and the doctors during surgery. Using anesthesia generally helps prevent medical issues. Besides, it makes the operation easier since the patient is unconscious and calm during the surgical treatment.
Definition of Anesthesiology
Anesthesiology is a branch of medicine that focuses on complete perioperative care. It may be before, during, and after surgery. It involves the use of anesthesia and other forms of treatment, including medications for critical emergencies, medicines for intensive care, and pain medicines.
Anesthesia is thus a medical option that includes anesthetics, known as medicines. This prevents you from feeling any discomfort, especially while undergoing a surgical procedure. It works by momentarily stopping pain or sensory impulses from traveling to the brain via the nerves.
An anesthesiologist is a doctor who administers anesthetic drugs to a patient to prevent them from feeling pain. They also play a significant role apart from just putting individuals to sleep for surgery. For instance, they can perform a number of other medical practices, including;
- Conducting critical care unit examinations,
- Helping with emergency cases,
- And providing pain relief guidance.
Perioperative Medicine Phases
This approach is categorized into three perioperative medicine phases, including;
Before surgery, an anesthesiologist often performs an assessment test to determine your ability to withstand anesthesia. It can include the following;
- Reviewing the current and the past medical history of health conditions involving the lungs, kidneys, liver, and heart
- Reviewing the past surgical procedures and reaction to anesthesia
- Assessing allergic reactions associated with both medicines and non-medicine
- Assessing the current drugs you are using and if you are a tobacco or alcohol user
This phase involves prepping the patient for the procedure based on the type of anesthesia to administer. It can as well include inserting the intravenous line into the vein and connecting the patient to electrodes. This helps monitor respiration and heart rate.
After the surgery is done, the anesthesiologists stop anesthesia and continue monitoring the patients. They also check for the complications and side effects and administer treatment if necessary.
Basing on the type of anesthesia and the period of delivery, the doctor can conduct a postoperative assessment. The aim of this is to check for various complications, including;
- Sore throat
- Nerve injury
- Dental injury
- Impaired lung function
- Eye injury
- Changes in the mental state
Anesthesiology is a wide and diverse field when it comes to surgical procedures. Besides, anesthesiologists specialize in various areas, including;
Critical Care Anesthesia
Anesthesiologists who specialize in critical care are referred to as intensivists. The intensivist-anesthesiologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting all body processes. They also determine if they are linked to circulation, digestion, liver, nervous system, or other systems.
Critical care anesthesiologists are also trained to;
- Facilitate a patient's overall patient care and management
- Coordinate with a number of medical practitioners, including the family and friends of the patient
Pain Medicine Anesthesiology
Pain medicine anesthesiology focuses on patients with chronic pain caused by diabetes, burns, herpes, or headaches. It also helps with abdominal pain, chest pain, and pelvic pain, among others.
The main roles of anesthesiologists in this field include;
- Treating and caring for the patients
- Conducting pain-relieving procedures
- Administering medications and providing rehabilitation therapy services
- Counseling the patients and their families
This field is concerned with the maternity departments that help in relieving pain and complicated issues. For instance, in a situation where a cesarean section is required, strong anesthesia can be administered. This is to help numb the lower body parts during surgery. However, in case of complications, the anesthesiologist can administer general anesthesia. They can also help manage the administration of certain medications, including fentanyl and morphine.
Cardiothoracic anesthesia is a sub-department of anesthesia that primarily deals with pain related to the heart, chest, or lung. It addresses the postoperative, intraoperative, and preoperative treatment of adult patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery.
Cardiothoracic anesthesia also helps during surgical procedures such as;
- Coronary artery bypass surgery
- Heart valve surgery
- Heart transplants
- Lung transplants
- Heart or lung transplants
- Congenital heart surgery
Other anesthesiology subspecialties include;
- Neurosurgical anesthesiology
- Pediatric anesthesiology
- Hospice and palliative anesthesiology
- Regional and acute pain anesthesiology
Types of Anesthesia
Mostly, the type of anesthesia that the doctor uses depends on the type and the extent of the surgical procedure. It can be any of these options;
Local anesthesia is a treatment that numbs a small part of the body. Besides, you will be awake and alert during the entire procedure. Some of the procedures done under local anesthesia include;
- Skin biopsy
- Dental procedure
- Cataract surgery
- Mole removal
- Getting a stitch
This treatment prevents pain in the major parts of the body, including the limb and other areas below the chest. With regional anesthesia, you can be conscious and alert during the surgery. Alternatively, the doctor can administer additional sedation to the regional anesthesia to make you unconscious.
Examples of procedure done under regional anesthesia include;
- Child deliver or cesarean sections to ease pain
- Hand surgery
- Knee or hip surgery
- Leg or abdomen surgery
General anesthesia is designed to make you insensitive to pain and stimuli and unconscious during the procedure. It’s mainly used when performing major invasive procedures and surgery of the abdomen, head, chest, and knee replacement.
Sedation treatment relaxes you during the procedure to the point where you sleep naturally but can be awakened and aroused easily. It comprises light or moderate sedation and deep sedation. Some of the surgical procedures done under light or moderate sedation include colonoscopy and cardiac catheterization.
On the other hand, deep sedation is administered by a professional anesthesiologist. This is because the strong dose can interfere with normal breathing, but you will be more asleep, unlike the light or moderate sedation.
Ways of Administering Anesthesia
Doctors often administer anesthesia in various ways depending on the type and scope of the surgical operation. It can be through;
- Injections such as intravenous (IV) or shots
- Inhaled gas
- Topical liquid or spray that can be applied to the skin or eyes
What to Expect During Anesthesia
When addressing a medical condition that requires anesthesia, anesthesiologists often perform the following;
- Administration of a single or a combination of different anesthetics, including pain therapies and sometimes anti-nausea drugs
- Monitoring crucial signs such as the level of blood oxygen, blood pressure, and heart rhythm
- Identifying and managing various health issues, including allergic reactions and any change of the signs
- Giving postsurgical pain management
Possible Anesthesia Side Effects
Most of the side effects associated with anesthesia are temporary and can disappear after a few hours. These side effects also vary from one person to another, depending on the type of anesthesia and how it’s administered.
Generally, you are likely to experience the following;
- Back or muscle pain
- Difficulty urinating
- Chills triggered by low body temperature or hypothermia
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain, easy bruising, redness, or tenderness of the injection area
Risks and Complications Associated With Anesthesia
The common risks and complications that may arise after administering anesthesia include;
Atelectasis or collapsed lung: Use of general anesthesia when performing surgery can result in a collapsed lung. This can occur if the lung air sacs are filled with fluid or deflate.
Anesthesia awareness: Sometimes, patients who receive general anesthesia can experience consciousness during the surgical procedure. They can be aware of the surroundings but are not able to talk or move.
Malignant hyperthermia: Patients suffering from malignant hyperthermia are at a high risk of experiencing severe anesthetic reactions. This can also result in muscle contractions and fever during the surgical procedure.
Postoperative delirium: This is also referred to as postoperative cognitive dysfunction. It’s a medical condition associated with the confusion that usually appears and disappears after a week. This condition can also result in learning difficulties and long-term memory issues. Old patients are more susceptible to postoperative delirium.
Nerve damage: Although rare, patients can experience nerve damage that results in numbness, body weakness, temporary or permanent neuropathic pain.
Anesthesiology is basically concerned with perioperative care before, during, and after a surgical operation. It involves using anesthesia to prevent the patient from experiencing pain and making the procedure easier. On the other hand, anesthesiologists specialize in administering anesthetic drugs to patients.
CloudHospital is dedicated to providing perioperative care and treatment to all patients undergoing various surgical procedures. It also works with professional anesthesiologists who are well trained to administer anesthetic drugs and monitor the patient throughout the surgery.