An Anesthesiologist Answers Your Questions
It is natural to have questions about undergoing anesthesia. Below, an OAG anesthesiologist answers a few of the most common patient inquiries.*
*The following information is provided for general educational purposes only. Specific questions about your anesthesia or procedure should be discussed with your anesthesiologist.
What is anesthesia?
The medical dictionary defines anesthesia as, “A loss of the ability to feel pain, caused by administration of a drug or other medical intervention.”
That’s pretty good, but for an OAG anesthesiologist, “anesthesia” means much more than that.
One of our many jobs is to plan, choose and provide “anesthesia” by various means. This includes general anesthesia, local anesthesia, regional anesthesia with nerve blocks, epidurals, spinals and “twilight” sedation.
Anesthesia must also include patient comfort, support of airway, breathing and the function of all vital organs, as well as the monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions that might be pre-existing or arise during the time of your surgery.
Each patient’s procedure requires a custom-designed combination of medications, equipment and techniques to ensure the greatest safety, highest quality and most comfortable experience. A typical anesthetic can include a dozen drugs and several procedural interventions. Our goal is always to take great care of our patients.
Is an anesthesiologist a medical doctor?
Yes. We have chosen anesthesiology as our specialty in a similar way as your internist, pediatrician, or surgeon chooses his or her specialty.
At OAG nearly all of our physicians are Board Certified or Board Eligible anesthesiologists. This means we are doctors who have completed four years of college, four years of medical school and three to six years of residency/fellowship training after medical school.
In order to assess our patients and manage any medical problems that might arise during surgery, anesthesiologists need a wide breadth of medical knowledge covering all systems of the body and their diseases. This is in addition to having detailed knowledge of the surgical procedures and the physiological changes that might take place.
Pre-Surgery, During Surgery, Post-Surgery: What role does my anesthesiologist play in my procedure?
For starters, anesthesiologists assess patients before surgery, making sure that all medical issues have been appropriately addressed to minimize the risk of undergoing a procedure. We do this during a patient consultation before your procedure, often by phone the night before, and during a brief exam just before your procedure. This may also include collaborating with other specialists who have participated in your care.
We’ll talk you through your process for arrival and provide an opportunity for you to ask questions. We’ll ask about your medical history, current medical conditions and medications, and about your family medical history.
Your anesthesiologist is with you throughout your procedure, even while you are fully asleep under general anesthesia. As physicians, we closely monitor your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, temperature, level of sedation or sleep with the highest degree of vigilance so that we can pick up trends and treat them early.
Depending on the procedure, we might administer nerve blocks for post-operative pain, do extra procedures for a higher degree of monitoring, and control vital sign parameters within a narrow range. In addition, we might determine the need for extra fluid, blood products or special medications and then administer them when necessary.
So, making sure you are safely asleep, or numb, or sedated (i.e. anesthesia) is only one part of our job. We consider ourselves your medical doctor while you are having your procedure. We function with a high degree of vigilance and a broad base of knowledge in many areas—from when and how to awaken you comfortably–a skill always needed–to advanced resuscitation techniques which are essential, but fortunately seldom necessary.
Please contact us if you have any other questions.
Phone (503) 299 9906
Toll-free (800) 282 6864