Anesthesiology: An Overview

Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of patients before, during and after surgery. Through research and the development of new procedures, physician anesthesiologists have advanced the field, leading to a dramatic decrease in anesthesia-related deaths over the past 25 years, from two deaths per 10,000 anesthetics administered to fewer than five deaths per million.

There are three main categories of anesthesia used in surgery and medical procedures, each having many forms and uses. They are:

  • General
  • Regional
  • Local

In general anesthesia, you are unconscious and have no awareness or sensations. There are a number of general anesthetic drugs. Some are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and others are medications introduced through a vein.

In regional anesthesia, your physician anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake or be given a sedative. Either way, you do not feel the surgery taking place. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia; the two most common are spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia.

In local anesthesia, the anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb just the location of your body requiring minor surgery or a procedure.