Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and the total care of the surgical patient before, during, and after surgery. Without anesthesia, many of modern medicine’s greatest benefits would not exist. More than 25 million surgical procedures are performed each year in the United States. All of those patients were touched by the science of anesthesiology and the skill and dedication of their anesthesiologist.
The anesthesiologist is the perioperative physician (peri meaning “all-around”) who provides medical care to patients throughout their surgical experience. This includes evaluating the patient before surgery (preoperative), consulting with the surgeon, providing pain control and monitoring life functions during surgery (intraoperative), supervising care after surgery (postoperative), and medically discharging the patient from the recovery unit.
The education of today’s anesthesiologists has kept pace with their expanding role in health care. After completing a four-year college program and four years of medical school, they enter a four-year anesthesiology residency-training program. Fellowships in an anesthesia subspecialty involve an additional year of study.
As a result, complications from anesthesia have declined dramatically over the last 30 years. The youngest of premature infants in neonatal units survive intricate, lifesaving procedures while at the same time, 100-year-old patients successfully undergo major surgeries once thought impossible.
Today’s new safe, short-acting anesthetic medications and sophisticated monitoring devices enable anesthesiologists to provide patients with the best medical care possible.