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Focus Anesthesia, perioperative medicine
Specialist Anesthesiologist/anaesthetist

Anesthesiology, anaesthesia or anaesthetics is the medical speciality that focuses on perioperative medicine and the administration of anesthesia. The American Society of Anesthesiologists define anesthesiology as "the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery."[1]

Terminology varies between countries. In North America, the medical speciality is called anesthesiology, a doctor practising it is termed an anesthesiologist, and the treatment delivered is referred to as anesthesia.[2] By contrast, in the United Kingdom and other countries following the British tradition, both the medical speciality and the treatment delivered are referred to as anaesthesia or anaesthetics, and the physician who performs them is termed an anaesthetist (in North America, the word anesthetist indicates a certified anesthesiologist assistant who delivers anesthesia under the supervision of a physician) or certified registered nurse anesthetist who in most states in the U.S. require physician supervision.

One of the fundamental practices of anesthesiologists is that of general anesthesia in which a person is placed in a medical coma. This is performed to permit surgery without the individual responding to pain (analgesia) during surgery or remembering the surgery.

If general anesthesia is not necessary, then regional anesthesia can be performed to induce analgesia in a region of the body. For example, epidural administration of a local anesthetic is commonly performed on the mother during childbirth to reduce the pain while permitting the mother to be awake and active in labor & delivery (general anesthesia would not permit this).

Anesthesiologists often also undertake non-surgical pain relief and critical care management that includes working in an intensive care unit.[2]


In the United States, anesthesiologists attend four years of medical school to earn either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and then follow it with four years of residency. Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses with additional post-graduate training in anesthesia many times with a doctorate degree in anesthesia with a minimum of one year of work experience in an intensive care unit, who work either under the supervision of an anesthesiologist or independently depending on state law.[3]


Effective practice of anesthesiology requires several areas of knowledge by the practitioner, some of which are:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is Anesthesiology". Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "What is Anesthesiology". American Society of Anesthesiologists. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-16. Retrieved 2016-06-08.