Welcome to the patient education page. Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the anesthesia for your surgery. If you would like more information, please click the buttons below to access the Anesthesia 101, Preparing for Surgery and Pain Management sections of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Made for This Moment website.
See below for answers to your frequently asked questions about anesthesia:
If you’re preparing for surgery, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to the education, training, and experience of the surgeon performing the procedure. But you may not have thought much about the anesthesiologist or the importance of his or her medical expertise in your procedure — before, during, and after — to keep you safe and comfortable.
Anesthesiologists meet with you and your surgeon before surgery to assess your health and make decisions to ensure your anesthesia care is as safe and effective as possible. They monitor your vital signs during surgery, including how well your heart and lungs are working while you’re unconscious, and they take care of you after surgery to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible while you recover.
Anesthesiologists also play a key role in taking care of patients who are having minor surgery or who may not require general anesthesia, such as women in labor who need to be awake and alert but require effective pain management. They also help patients who have serious pain from an injury, or chronic or recurring pain such as migraines or ongoing back problems.
Who are anesthesiologists?
Anesthesiologists are medical doctors just like your primary care physician and surgeon. They specialize in anesthesia care, pain management, and critical care medicine, and have the necessary knowledge to understand and treat the entire human body. Anesthesiologists have 12 to 14 years of education, including medical school, and 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training. Anesthesiologists evaluate, monitor, and supervise patient care before, during, and after surgery, delivering anesthesia, leading the Anesthesia Care Team, and ensuring optimal patient safety.
Anesthesiologists guide you throughout your entire surgical experience:
Anesthesiologists specialize in pain control, and some focus their practices on treating patients with chronic pain. If you suffer from pain that won’t go away, such as migraine headaches, back pain, or pain caused by a condition such as fibromyalgia, ask your doctor about a referral to an anesthesiologist who specializes in treating chronic pain.
If you’re planning to have surgery, you probably know that your surgeon is not the only person who will be taking care of you. An entire team of physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals will be working together to make sure your surgery and recovery are safe and successful.
One of the key members of that medical team is the anesthesiologist, a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia, pain management, and critical care medicine. This physician often leads the Anesthesia Care Team, which might include nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants, and anesthesiology resident physicians who will guide you throughout your entire surgical experience — before, during, and after the procedure. Learn more here.