Explanations of medical terms may be found in our Glossary.
Questions about your anesthesiologist
What does an anesthesiologist do?
Anesthesiologists are probably best known for putting you to sleep before surgery (known as general anesthesia). These medical doctors specialize in using medication to provide relief for postoperative (temporary) pain. Your anesthesiologist is also responsible for your welfare and comfort during and after surgery. In addition, some anesthesiologists are involved in the treatment of chronic pain (recurring) problems.
What is the difference between analgesia and anesthesia?
Analgesia is a general term for pain relief of any kind. Anesthesia may involve analgesia through loss of physical sensation (called regional anesthesia) in a part of the body. For some surgeries, it includes loss of consciousness as well as analgesia (called general anesthesia).
When would I see an anesthesiologist?
You will see an anesthesiologist when you have surgery that requires anesthesia or sedation. Usually you will meet your anesthesiologist just before you go into the operating room, although your surgeon may request a consult with an anesthesiologist at your Preadmission Clinic appointment. If you require relief from chronic pain, your doctor might refer you to our Chronic Pain Management Clinic.
What does my anesthesiologist need to know?
Your anesthesiologist will need to know if you have certain medical conditions (for example: drug allergies, diabetes, malignant hyperthermia, porphyria). This may be discussed with an anesthesiologist at your pre-admission clinic appointment.
Do you treat chronic pain?
We offer diagnosis and treatment services to patients who require relief from chronic pain (persistent or recurring) due to a wide variety of medical conditions. You will need a referral from your doctor. For more information, please see the Chronic Pain Management Clinic section.
Questions about Surgery
What type of anesthesia will be used for my surgery?
The type of anesthesia depends on the type of surgery or procedure being done. General anesthesia (being asleep) is often used for major surgery, for example. However, certain types of surgery might use regional or local anesthesia instead, which numbs the part of the body being operated on while you remain awake. Sedation (relaxing medication) might also be used for short procedures, depending on the nature of the surgery.
- How should I prepare for surgery?
What is Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)?
PCA involves a device that lets the patient adjust their comfort after major surgery. When the patient presses a button, a computerized pump delivers a pre-measured dose of pain medication through an intravenous (IV) line.
What does the anesthesiologist do?
Before surgery: You will be required to attend an appointment at the Preadmission Clinic within two weeks prior to your surgery. You or your surgeon may request a consultation assessment with an anesthesiologist to discuss any concerns that you might have. If you have any special medical conditions (for example: drug allergies, diabetes, high blood pressure, malignant hyperthermia, porphyria) you will need to discuss this at the preadmission visit. If you don't need to see an anesthesiologist at your preadmission appointment, you will meet him or her on the morning of your surgery, usually just prior to going into the operating room.
During surgery: Your anesthesiologist is responsible for your safety and comfort during the operation. He or she administers the anesthetic, provides any necessary medication and operates the equipment that keeps your vital signs functioning throughout the operation.
After surgery: The anesthesiologist supervises your post-operative recovery and monitors your functioning as you wake up. Your anesthesiologist ensures you are comfortable and pain free, and orders any pain medication as needed.