Anaesthetists are specialist doctors that provide a wide range of services, often as members of multidisciplinary teams that provides health care to patients. They have an important role in assessing and optimising patients before procedures and caring for them before, during and after surgery. In addition to providing anaesthesia services they play a pivotal role in resuscitating critically ill patients, managing patients suffering from acute or chronic pain, as well as providing pain relief for women in labour.
There are different types of anaesthesia. Patients are most familiar with general anaesthesia, commonly referred to as going to ‘sleep.’ Your anaesthetist will carefully assess your particular needs, consider the type of procedure you are having and discuss the most appropriate plan for you.
The different types of anaesthesia are broadly summarised as follows:
General anaesthesia produces a medication-induced state of unconsciousness.
Procedural sedation is used for procedures where general anaesthesia is not required and allows patients to tolerate procedures that would otherwise be uncomfortable or painful. It may be also associated with a lack of memory of such events.
Regional involves the injection of local anaesthetic in the vicinity of nerve bundles responsible for body areas such as the thigh, ankle, shoulder, forearm or hand. It also includes injections in the back termed epidural or spinal blocks, often used during labour or for surgery such as Caesarean section and joint replacement.
Regional anaesthesia may be used on its own or combined with general anaesthesia. The main advantage of regional anaesthesia is to significantly reduce pain during and after your operation. Using some form of regional anaesthesia is particularly common for orthopaedic procedures on the shoulder, hip, or knee. Your anaesthetist will discuss your options before surgery.