About Anesthesia

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a specialty of medicine that serves to relieve pain during a medical procedure or surgery through anesthetics.  There are three types of anesthesia; general, regional and local anesthesia.

General anesthesia is most commonly used for extensive surgeries. The patient is completely unconscious when general anesthesia is administered.

Regional anesthesia is typically used for surgeries pertaining to certain areas of the body such as arms and legs. It is also used during childbirth when an epideral is provided. With regional anesthesia you may or may not be conscious.

Local anesthesia is injected into tissue to create numbness for a specific location. In addition, sedatives or pain relivers may be administered through an IV.

Who administers anesthetics?

An anesthetist is an individual that administers anesthetics to a patient. An anesthesiologist or CRNA, also known as a nurse anesthetist, can adminster anesthetics.

An anesthesiologist is a physician (M.D. or D.O) that is licensed to practice medicine and treat medical complications. An anesthesiologist must complete a 4 year bachelor's degree that gains them eligibility into medical school. After completing 4 years of medical school, an individual must complete 4 years in specialized training in anesthesiology as a resident. Anesthesiologists may go on to complete advanced training in critical care medicine, obstetric anesthesia, cardiothoracic anesthesia, pediatric anesthesia or other specialty.

A CRNA, also known as a nurse anesthetist, is an individual who has completed a bachelor's degree in nursing and 2 additional years in training of anesthesiology. A CRNA is not a medical physician but can perform anesthesia services under the supervision of an anesthesiologist or other physician. This is typically done in what is called an "Anesthesia Care Team" setting. Anesthesia Care Teams are led by the supervision and management of an anesthesiologist.