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Anesthesiology – The practice of medicine dealing with the loss of sensation to pain during and following medical or surgical procedures.
Types of Anesthesia
General Anesthesia – General anesthesia acts primarily on the brain and central nervous system to make the patient unconscious and unaware. It is administered via the patient’s circulatory system by a combination of inhaled gas and injected drugs. After the initial injection, anesthesia is maintained with inhaled gas anesthetics and additional drugs through an intravenous line (IV).
Local Anesthesia – Medicine given to temporarily stop the sense of pain in a particular area of the body. A patient remains conscious during a local anesthetic. For minor surgery, a local anesthetic can be administered via injection to the site. However, when a large area needs to be numbed, or if a local anesthetic injection will not penetrate deep enough, physicians may resort to regional anesthetics.
Regional Anesthesia – The blockage of the electrical nerve impulses in a nerve or group of nerves to the site of the surgical procedure.
Spinal – Often used for lower abdominal, pelvic, rectal or lower extremity surgery. This type of anesthetic involves injecting a single dose of the anesthetic agent directly into the spinal cord in the lower back, causing numbness in the lower body.
Epidural and Caudal Anesthesia – This anesthetic is similar to a spinal anesthetic and also is commonly used for surgery of the lower limbs and during labor and childbirth. This type of anesthesia involves continually infusing drugs through a thin catheter that has been placed into the space that surrounds the spinal cord in the lower back, causing numbness in the lower body.
Nerve Blocks – Placement of medicine around a group of nerves supplying impulses to the surgical area. For example, a Brachial Plexus block may be used by your anesthesiologist to provide anesthesia to your entire arm and shoulder.
Analgesia – The absence of normal sense of pain without loss of consciousness.
Analgesic – A drug that relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness, such as an aspirin.
Anesthesia – A partial or complete loss of feeling or sensation, with or without loss of consciousness, primarily for the purpose of surgery or other medical procedure. There are three main categories of anesthesia: general, regional and local.
Anesthesia Machine – A tool used by anesthesia providers to deliver the safest of anesthetics during surgery. The machine has vital controls for the flow of oxygen, air, nitrous oxide and anesthetics.
Anesthetic – A drug that produces anesthesia administered by inhalation (breathing) or intravenously (injection or through an IV).
Anesthesia Care Team – Anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists working together to administer anesthesia and monitor a patient’s condition during surgery, other medical procedures or delivery of a baby.
Anesthesiologist – Physician specializing in administering analgesia and anesthesia.
Anesthetist – One who administers an anesthetic. In many parts of the world, and particularly in Britain, this term applies to both nurses and doctors. However, in the USA and Canada, physicians who administer anesthetics are referred to as anesthesiologists.
Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who provide patient care before, during and immediately following surgical or medical procedures. An anesthesiologist may be involved in pain management. Upon graduating medical school, the anesthesiologist spends a year in an internship, followed by three years in a residency program. Anesthesiologists are certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology.
CRNAs are licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). Their credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or other appropriate baccalaureate degree, at least one year of experience as an RN in an acute care setting and a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia program. Upon completion of a master’s, CRNAs must pass a national certification exam. CRNAs must obtain a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their recertification.
Cardiopulmonary (Heart-Lung) Bypass Machine – A specialized piece of medical equipment commonly used during coronary (heart) artery bypass surgery and other types of surgery where the heart must be stopped.
Caudal Anesthesia – A type of anesthesia produced by injection of a local anesthetic into the caudal canal, a portion of the spinal canal. Caudal anesthesia is used to provide anesthesia and analgesia (pain relief) below the navel. It may be the sole anesthetic or combined with general anesthesia. It is also called caudal epidural anesthesia or a caudal block.
Block/Caudal Epidural Anesthesia – Another term for caudal anesthesia (see above).
Endotracheal Tube (Breathing Tube) – A tube placed in a patient’s windpipe to help the patient breathe. It is commonly used during general anesthesia.
Epidural Anesthesia – Anesthesia produced by injection of a local anesthetic into the epidural space of the spinal cord, frequently used during delivery, for surgeries below the waist and for post-operative pain management.
Laryngeal Mask Airway (LMA) – A device that provides a simple and effective way of establishing an airway in the patient during anesthesia. It is more effective than a face mask and less intrusive than an endotracheal tube (breathing tube).
Laryngoscope – A flexible, lighted tube used to look at the inside of the voice box and inserted through the mouth into the upper airway.
Sedation – Anesthesia where a drug is given to calm a patient during an otherwise excited, uncomfortable or anxious period of time. Often administered to patients immediately prior to surgery or during uncomfortable medical procedures.
Sedative – A substance that tends to calm, moderate or tranquilize nervousness or excitement.