Anesthesiology is one of the most challenging medical professions today as a changing population brings new varieties of illnesses to the operation table. Here are four current facts about anesthesia management that will help you better understand this profession.
Most surgery done today is carried out at outpatient centers
Healthcare today is moving out of the hospital into the community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly two-thirds of all operations are performed in outpatient or ambulatory surgery centers. Most of these operations are for minor surgical procedures. and the patient can walk out of the Center and recover at home. But when anesthesia is involved, the American Society of Anesthesiologists recommends that you find out who will be providing and monitoring the anesthesia and that a physician anesthesiologist is in charge of your anesthesia care.
The most frequent injury from anesthesia is tooth damage
When undergoing general anesthesia, the procedures used by the anesthesiologist will stress the mouth and teeth, and poor dental health may result in tooth damage. The anesthesiologist will check your dental health before surgery and may even delay surgery until dental work is carried out. The anesthesiologist can also use alternative methods to protect vulnerable teeth. You have dental risks if you have crowns, veneers, bridge work, protruding upper teeth, isolated teeth, or periodontal disease and will have to sign the consent form showing you are aware of these risks.
Although occurring only rarely, you could be partially aware during general anesthesia
On rare occasions, it’s possible for a patient to experience some awareness during surgery, such as of surroundings, pressure or pain. These experiences are usually fleeting. It is highly unlikely for surgery patients under general anesthesia to have severe awareness experiences. Modern monitoring technologies and brain monitoring devices help the anesthesiologist to prevent these occurrences.
The anesthesiologist can use deep sedation instead of general anesthesia with some conditions. This can be administered intravenously rather than through a breathing tube. With this procedure, patients may recall having heard voices or opening their eyes, but they are pain-free during the surgical procedure.
Anesthesia practice is improving, but it is still a developing science
In the 100 million surgical procedures performed each year in the U.S., the overall death rate remained at three deaths per 10,000 surgeries between 2010 and 2013. However, the percentage of adverse events fell from 11.8 percent in 2010 to 4.8 percent in 2013.
Today, there are faster-acting anesthetics, safer equipment used to deliver the drugs, and better devices to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and brain activity during surgery. With increased knowledge about anesthetics and effects on different patient factors, the anesthesiologist can be more precise in tailoring the administration of anesthesia to each individual patient. All these improvements make surgery under general anesthesia much safer, but being sicker, old or very young, or emergencies can still increase the risk.
With all these advances, there exists one remaining unknown that continues to challenge the profession and call for further research: the exact way that anesthesia affects the brain.