Anesthesiologists are responsible for closely monitoring and managing your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate under anesthesia. Learn how we care for you in the operating room and help keep you safe during surgery. 

About anesthesiology

Anesthesiology is the specialty of medicine that deals with total care of a patient before, during and after surgery. As an integral part of your surgical care team, anesthesiologists are responsible for closely monitoring and managing bodily changes that are altered by anesthesia medications and surgery. Anesthesiologists provide services at Main Line Health hospitals.

Services we offer

General anesthesia

This type of anesthesia is used for major operations, such as gallbladder or spine surgery. Under general anesthesia, you’re in a sleep-like state and feel no pain. It’s administered either through an intravenous (IV) line or by breathing it in through a face mask.

Regional anesthesia

Your provider injects local anesthetics around major nerves to numb a large part of your body, freeing you from pain at the operation site.

Spinal anesthesia

Your provider injects numbing medication around fluid surrounding spinal nerves in the lower back, blocking the transmission of pain reception and causing numbness from the waist down. This is effective for procedures involving the lower abdomen and lower extremities.

Epidural anesthesia

Epidural anesthesia is similar to spinal anesthesia; the difference is the location of the injection. In epidural anesthesia, numbing medication is administered in the space surrounding the sac containing the spinal fluid and spinal cord. A catheter can be threaded into this space, allowing your anesthesiologist to start a continuous infusion for additional numbing. Epidural anesthesia usually takes about 15-30 minutes to take adequate effect.

Peripheral nerve block

A peripheral nerve block is the injection of local anesthesia around the nerves that supply sensation to the surgical site. Peripheral nerve blocks are reserved for surgeries of the arms, legs and abdomen. These nerve blocks last several hours, and therefore will give the patient an extra measure of pain control during surgery and recovery.

Monitored anesthesia care (MAC) or intravenous (IV) sedation

Certain types of procedures can be performed under monitored anesthesia care (MAC) or IV sedation. In this type of anesthesia, medications will be given through an IV line resulting in sleepiness, analgesia and relaxation. This type of anesthesia is commonly referred to as “twilight” anesthesia. Depending on the surgery, the level of sedation may range from minimal, in which you may be sleepy but able to talk, or deep, in which you may not remember the procedure. MAC anesthesia is usually combined with local anesthesia, which involves numbing a small portion of the patient’s body, or regional anesthesia, as described above.

What to expect at Main Line Health

Safety is our number one priority. Several days or weeks prior to your procedure, you'll meet with a Main Line Health nurse in preadmission testing (PAT). In PAT, there will be a thorough evaluation of your medical background.

On the day of surgery, your anesthesiologist will meet with you to review your medical history and discuss types of anesthesia options that are appropriate for your surgery. This is to ensure your safety and comfort during the procedure. The anesthesiologist and your surgeon will determine the best type of anesthesia for you, taking your preferences into consideration whenever possible. All benefits and risks will be discussed with you and you will be asked to sign a consent form before going to the operating room. Your anesthesiologist may care for you in the operating room, or lead an anesthesia care team, which includes a dedicated nurse anesthetist.

Following the surgical procedure, you’ll be transferred to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), also known as the recovery room. This area is staffed by an anesthesiologist and specialized nurses who continue to monitor your vital signs and comfort level and keep your loved ones up to date on your progress. The supervising anesthesiologist is readily available should any questions or concerns arise during your recovery. Once you have met the criteria for moving to the next stage, you will be transported to your hospital bed if staying overnight, or to phase II of your final recovery process before being discharged.

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