Anesthesiology | Anesthesia

Anesthesiology is a branch of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient. MaineHealth anesthesiologists are specially-trained doctors who provide anesthesia to patients undergoing inpatient surgery, day surgery or medical tests. We are committed to providing surgical patients with a safe, painless experience that is as comfortable as possible.

What is anesthesia?

The three main types of anesthesia are:

  • Local anesthesia, which numbs one small area of the body.
  • Regional anesthesia, which blocks pain in an area of the body, such as an arm or leg.
  • General anesthesia, which makes you unconscious. You do not feel any pain, and you do not remember the procedure later.

General anesthesia causes a person to become unconscious, so that surgery can take place. In some cases an IV medication is given to relax the patient while the physician inserts a breathing tube. This tube is connected to a ventilator, which breathes for the patient during surgery. During surgery patients continue to receive medications to keep them unconscious so they are not aware of what is going on and do not experience any pain or discomfort.

What should I expect?

During any type of anesthesia, the anesthesia provider is at the patient’s side continuously. Patients are monitored with specialized equipment to detect any problems, enhance safety and keep things running smoothly. When the procedure is over, medications are stopped and the patient wakes up.

Anesthesiology specialists

  • Anesthesiologists are medical doctors with specialized training in an accredited anesthesiology residency program. Anesthesiologists ensure patients undergo surgery safely and comfortably. Anesthesiologists use specialized techniques during surgery to accomplish this. Anesthesiologists are also experts in management of pain.  They provide good pain management to help patients perform physical therapy and ensure better surgical outcomes after many orthopedic procedures. Good pain management may reduce the rate of heart attacks and other postoperative complications.
  • Anesthetists are generally nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse anesthetist program. Most have been certified by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Certified nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses with special skills in administering anesthesia. They provide anesthesia and related care before and after surgical, therapeutic, and diagnostic procedures. They can deliver pain management and emergency services.
  • Anesthesiologist assistants (AAs) are certified by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). They have special knowledge of anesthesia drugs and techniques. They work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist and are qualified to administer anesthesia to patients.