We are going to focus on the three aspects which, to our understanding, are most appealing. Please remember to read the clarifications made under the “Legal Warning” section at the end of the article.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
• Anaesthesiology is the field of Medicine which deals with pain treatment and integral care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.
Apart from the above-mentioned fields of action, our speciality currently includes others, namely pain treatment, critical medical profiles and extrahospital or intrahospital emergencies.
• Our duties inside the operating theatre go beyond anaesthetizing patients, mainly consisting of protecting and regulating their vital signs, in order for the surgical intervention to cause them the least possible alterations.
In fact it is us, the surgeons, who are in charge of diagnosing and tackling any problem or medical incident which may occur while practising the operation or during the postoperative period immediately after.
The main types of anaesthetics are:
General anaesthetics : The patient remains unconscious.
Regional anaesthetics : The region of the body which is going to be operated on is anaesthetized, hence its name. To do so, the anaesthetic is injected into the region close to the nerves which capture the sensitivity of that region.
Local anaesthetics : Anaesthetics is directly administered into the area on which the surgeon is going to operate.
Anaesthetics always entails a risk for the patient, which will vary mainly according to the type of intervention which the patient is to undergo and their physical health prior to the operation.
Anyhow, serious accidents are exceptional. Complications related to anaesthetics have significantly decreased in the past 25 years. Likewise the number of deaths attributed to anaesthetics has fallen dramatically. Today it is estimated that the death risk due to anaesthetics is 1 out of 200,000 cases.
EPIDURAL ANALGESICS FOR LABOUR
Epidural analgesics is administered into the spine or vertebral column between two vertebrae of the lower part of the back. A special needle is used which enables us to identify the epidural space, located just outside the meninges, which contain the cephalorachideal liquid and the spinal chord.
In most cases, its duration can be extended for the time required.
In general it is safe both for the mother and the newborn, but can occasionally cause complications and side effects which are rarely serious. Such complications may arise despite the patient being carefully observed and the anaesthesiologist having taken all the necessary precautions to prevent them.
THE PAIN CLINIC
Many of the techniques and medicines anaesthesiologists use to alleviate pain during surgery can also be used for other types of pain. We know this thanks to the inclusion of the study of different forms of acute and chronic pain as well as their treatment in our medical training.
Pain Treatment Units are normally made up of and managed by anaesthesiologists who have specialized in this practice.
However, a Pain Clinic normally consists of multidisciplinary units where other specialists, usually consultants specialized in Internal Medicine, Oncology, Rheumatology, Rehabilitation and Psychology, also carry out their healing tasks. They are all backed by the experience and the knowledge required to asses which treatment suits each patient.
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