The anesthesiology department consists of one group of specialized practitioners working closely together to provide the highest level of anesthesia care. In addition to the obvious involvement during an operation, the anesthesia department is also involved in the equally important pre- and post-operative care.
Anesthesia pre-operative care includes an evaluation of the patient and his/her surgery, as well as a discussion to decide which type of anesthesia best suits the patient for that type of surgery. The patient plays an active role in deciding the type of anesthesia to be used. At this time, any medical problems are evaluated, and any patient concerns are addressed.
Intra-operative care includes continuous monitoring of the patient by a member of the anesthesia team utilizing the most up-to-date monitors.
Post-operative care includes a plan to minimize discomfort resulting from the surgery. In addition, any side effects are quickly addressed.
For additional information on anesthesia and pain management at AVH, please see the article, "Pain management improves care, reassures patients"
in the Fall 2007 issue of Health Matters
The anesthesia experience includes one or more of the following types of anesthesia. All of our practitioners are highly trained in these techniques.
- Local anesthesia with sedation—useful for more minor surgeries. Very safe and often provides good pain relief for many hours after surgery.
- General anesthesia—the classic type of anesthesia where the patient is totally asleep. Often combined with local or regional anesthesia to extend pain relief after awakening. New anesthesia agents allow the patient to be awake and alert very shortly after surgery.
- Regional anesthesia—this is the "numbing" of a large area of the body by injecting local anesthetics around the major nerves going to that area. Due to the large amount of orthopedic surgery at AVH, this type of anesthesia is most commonly used. Regional anesthesia has a number of advantages, including the blocking of the body's stress response to surgical stimulation, and perhaps most importantly, excellent pain relief long after the surgery is over.
With both local and regional anesthesia, the patient can often be awake if desired. It is not uncommon for a patient to watch his/her knee surgery on a monitor as it is happening.
The anesthesia department provides continuous coverage for the hospital, including anesthesia for obstetrical and emergency patients. Labor epidurals are available for women who choose to have them.
We also have a chronic pain center at AVH, which is directed by an anesthesiologist with special training in chronic pain.