Patient Anesthesia

Before undergoing surgery, it’s important that you learn everything you can about anesthesia, from what it is to who is administering it.

Click on the questions to reveal answers.

Q: Who are anesthesiologists? [+/-]

Anesthesiologists are critical members of your surgical team as they have the responsibility of monitoring your welfare while you're under anesthesia.

Your anesthesiologist's primary goal is to ensure your comfort and safety during surgery and to make medical judgments to protect you.

Q: What's the difference between a doctor and an anesthesiologist? [+/-]

Anesthesiologists specialize in anesthesiology, the use of pain-blocking techniques or medications (anesthetics) during surgical procedures.

The anesthesiologist’s role in the operating room is simple: to ensure your comfort during surgery and make informed medical decisions with your best interest in mind. This includes immediately diagnosing and treating any complications that might arise during your procedure, such as problems with your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, all of which can be affected by surgery.

In addition, your anesthesiologist will manage any chronic medical conditions that may need special attention during your procedure and immediately afterward. The role of an anesthesiologist extends beyond the operating and recovery room, as they also work in intensive care units to help restore critically ill patients to stable condition.

Anesthesiologists are certified via the American Board of Anesthesiology, which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Q: Where do anesthesiologists work? [+/-]

Anesthesiologists provide care in operating rooms and other procedure sites throughout the hospital. They are able to provide sedation and other support during almost any procedure.

Preparing for Surgery

Q: May I choose my anesthesiologist for my surgery? [+/-]

Of course you can. You usually have a choice as to who your anesthesiologist will be: your surgeon may refer you to an anesthesiologist or you may select one based on a personal recommendation. Feel free to contact the anesthesia office with any additional questions.

Q: Is it important to sit down with my anesthesiologist before surgery? [+/-]

Absolutely. Anesthesia can affect your entire body. Therefore, it is important for your anesthesiologist to know as much about your medical history as possible.

You will likely meet your anesthesiologist during a preoperative interview, if not immediately before your surgery, at which point the anesthesiologist will carefully review your medical history and recent medications.

During this discussion, the anesthesiologist will most likely touch on the following points:

  • The procedures associated with your surgery

  • Your anesthetic choices (including their risks and benefits)

  • Any tests that may be needed

  • Medications you may be prescribed

Q: What are the different types of anesthesia? [+/-]

There are three main categories of anesthesia: local, regional and general.

  • Local anesthesia numbs a specific part of the body. A local anesthetic is injected directly into the surgical area to block pain. It is used only for minor procedures. You may stay awake during the procedure, or you may get medicine to help you relax or sleep.

  • Regional anesthesia blocks pain in a larger part of the body. During this procedure, an anesthetic is injected around major nerves or the spinal cord. Like with local anesthesia, you may be given medicine to help you relax or sleep during your procedure.

  • General anesthesia affects the entire body, including the brain. You may receive anesthetics through a vein (intravenously), or you may breathe them in. With general anesthesia, you are completely unaware and do not feel pain during the surgery.

Your anesthesiologist and surgeon will collaboratively determine what type of anesthesia is best for you. The type of anesthesia chosen for your operation will depend on many factors and will be discussed with you prior to your surgery.

During your Surgery

Q: What does my anesthesiologist do during the surgery? [+/-]

Your anesthesiologist is responsible for your comfort and care before, during and after your surgery. In the operating room, he or she will direct your anesthesia and manage your vital functions. The anesthesiologist is also responsible for fluid and blood replacement, when necessary.

Rest assured that your anesthesiologist is acutely aware of your specific medical needs and well-prepared to address them both during and immediately after your surgery.

After your Surgery

Q: Is the anesthesiologist's job done after the surgery? [+/-]

Your anesthesiologist continues to be responsible for your care in the recovery room. The anesthesiologist will direct the specially trained staff that is monitoring your condition and vital signs as the anesthesia wears off. The anesthesiologist ultimately decides when you are able to leave the recovery room.

Your anesthesiologist may participate in the management of any pain you experience following surgery. The anesthesiologist may prescribe intravenous or oral medications, perform nerve blocks to numb the site of surgery, and visit with you to ensure your pain is well managed in the hospital.

Q: Will I receive a separate bill from the anesthesiologist? [+/-]

You will probably receive a bill for services provided by your anesthesiologist as you would from any other physician. Your anesthesiologist or a member of the staff can help answer questions you may have regarding financial concerns.

Please note that your hospital may charge separately for medications and equipment used for your anesthetics. You can also contact your health insurance to inquire about your coverage.

Q: Anything else I should know or do? [+/-]

If you are well informed and know what to expect, you will be better prepared and more relaxed for your surgery. Be sure to ask questions and discuss any concerns you might have with your anesthesiologist regarding your anesthetic care.


The above information is provided by North American Partners in Anesthesia (NAPA). Founded in 1986, NAPA is the leading single specialty anesthesia management company in the United States. To learn more about NAPA, visit: