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Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat do anesthesiologists do in the operating rooms?
Anesthesiologists are physicians who take care of the patient's medical condition while the surgeons perform surgery; keep a close watch on the patient's breathing, activity of the heart including heart rate, blood pressure, (and also the function of other organs such as the kidney, depending on the extent of the surgery); and last but not the least, ensure loss of consciousness (if general anesthesia is performed), and the control of pain and anxiety. Specialized anesthesiologists (pain specialists) perform procedures to alleviate/treat pain. Nurse anesthetists are specialized nurses trained in the administration of anesthesia who are supervised by physician anesthesiologists .
Do anesthesiologists work solely in the operating rooms?
Anesthesiologists assess the medical condition and physical readiness of the patient for surgery in the Anesthesia PreoperativeScreening Clinic. Anesthesiologists may help manage the medical condition of and provide anesthesia to patients undergoing a CT scan, MRI, procedures in gastroenterology, cardiac electrophysiology and other areas remote from the operating room suite.
Anesthesiologists also perform an important role in the obstetric suite by providing analgesia and anesthesia to parturients. The Pain Clinic is run and staffed by anesthesiologists who help treat chronic pain conditions. Other anesthesiologists may be specialized to take care of critically ill patients in intensive care units. The Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at UTMB is the Chairman of Anesthesiology, Dr. Donald S. Prough.
What types of anesthesia are there?
There are 3 main types of anesthesia:
- General anesthesia where the patient is completely unconscious and the breathing is usually facilitated by means of a mask, a breathing tube or a combination of the two (a mask airway.)
- Monitored anesthesia care where the patient receives sedation (but is not completely unconscious) under the close supervision of an anesthesia provider.The surgeons may also use some medicine to numb the area locally.
- Regional anesthesia- a part of the body is made insensate by a variety of "blocks" such as epidural anesthesia (which laboring women often receive), spinal anesthesia or peripheral nerve blocks which is the selective blockade of nerves controlling sensation in a particular operative site such as the arm.
No matter what anesthetic is performed, the patient's safety is ensured by carefully watching the heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen content of the blood and other indicators. All types of anesthesia may not be applicable to certain patients. The choice of the anesthetic is carefully made after consideration of the patient's condition, type of surgery, and the preferences of the patient, surgeon and the anesthesiologist.