What is anaesthesia?
Anaesthesia isn’t sleep – it is so much deeper.
Anaesthesia refers to the practice of administering medications either by injection or by inhalation (breathing in) that block the feeling of pain and other sensations, or that produce a deep state of unconsciousness that eliminates all sensations, which allows medical and surgical procedures to be undertaken without causing undue distress or discomfort.
Your Anaesthetist will discuss your anaesthesia with you prior to your operation, so that you know what technique will suit you as an individual patient. The choice of anaesthesia technique is not just based on the surgery performed, but is also very reliant on other important factors such as any pre-existing medical problems you may have, and any medications that you may be taking. Every patient, and every operation, is different and your Anaesthetist is well trained to manage all aspects of your individual care.
Depending on the exact nature of your surgery (particularly for major operations), and your general state of health, it may be advisable to visit your Anaesthetist for a consultation prior to your admission to hospital. Your surgeon may advise you to book such a consultation, or you may receive contact from your hospital, or the staff at the Wakefield Anaesthetic Group. Even if you do not receive such contact, but have matters you wish to discuss, you are welcome to book a pre-anaesthesia consultation with us by calling (08) 8232 5755.
What is an Anaesthetist?
Specialist Anaesthetists are fully qualified and highly trained specialist medical doctors who hold a degree in medicine and spend at least two years working in the hospital system before completing a further five years (or equivalent) of accredited training in anaesthesia culminating in being awarded a diploma of fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), which can be recognised by the initials FANZCA after their name.
The ANZCA training program includes at least two years of general medical education and training followed by five years of approved specialist training. This includes multiple assessments, both at the hospitals where trainees work and by formal examinations. When trainees are in the training program they are called registrars. After completing the five year training program, successful registrars can become Fellows of the College and can practise as Anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand. As a result of this rigorous and demanding training program, there is no safer place in the world to have an anaesthetic, than in Australia.
People often think an Anaesthetist simply “puts people to sleep”. This is not actually true. General anaesthesia involves your Anaesthetist placing you into a carefully controlled state of unconsciousness, so that you are unaware of the surgery taking place. During general anaesthesia, the support and monitoring of your vital bodily functions, such as breathing and circulation, and the changes the surgery may cause here, are essential.
Your Anaesthetist’s skills go well beyond looking after you just during your surgery. Because of the skills gained during their training, Anaesthetists are experts in post-operative pain relief, and in other forms of analgesia, including specialised local anaesthetic techniques such as epidurals for labour analgesia. Anaesthetists are also highly skilled in airway management and resuscitation, and in fact are actively involved in training other doctors in these techniques.
You will be well looked after by your specialist Anaesthetist throughout your whole journey, from the pre-operative stage, through to the surgical procedure itself, and your recovery and post-operative care.
How does your Anaesthetist stay up to date?
After they obtain their fellowship, Anaesthetists continue to update their skills by regularly attending professional sessions. It is mandatory for Anaesthetists to participate in a continuing professional development program in order for them to continue to practise.
Each year ANZCA runs a series of scientific meetings attended by leading local and international experts, and where new techniques and technology can be presented along with research findings. There are also extensive workshop programs.
ANZCA’s Education, Training and Assessment Development Committee provides a range of services to ensure that ANZCA and its Fellows remain at the forefront of innovation and best practice in anaesthesia and pain medicine.
The word anaesthesia is coined from two Greek words: “an” meaning “without” and “aesthesis” meaning “sensation”. There are various types of anaesthesia. Throughout their lives, most people will undergo anaesthesia either during the birth of their baby or for a surgical procedure, which could range from relatively short, simple surgery on a day-stay basis through to major surgery requiring complex, rapid decisions to keep them safe. Many of today’s operations are made possible as a result of developments in anaesthesia and training of specialist anaesthetists.
Patients having anaesthesia will have an anaesthetist with them all the way from the preoperative assessment of their medical conditions and planning of their medical care, to closely monitoring their health and wellbeing throughout their procedure to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery.
Relief of pain and suffering is central to the practice of anaesthesia. Despite an increase in the complexity of surgical operations, modern anaesthesia is relatively safe due to high standards of training that emphasise quality and safety. In addition, there have been improvements in drugs and equipment. Increased support for research to improve anaesthesia has resulted in Australia and New Zealand having one of the best patient safety records in the world.