ABCs of Anesthesiology


Anesthesiologist - An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who, after completing four years of medical school, receives four years of additional training in anesthesiology.

Airway - Anesthesiologists are airway experts. They help develop and specialize in the use of equipment and techniques that ensure adequate oxygen delivery via the trachea.

Advocate - Anesthesiologists serve as your advocates at the local, state and federal level by working to ensure that your anesthesia care is administered or supervised by a medical doctor who has completed specialty training in anesthesiology. The American Society of Anesthesiologists and the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists help support the work of New York's anesthesiologists.


Board Certification – The American Board of Anesthesiology provides board certification for physicians who have successfully completed training in anesthesiology. Board certification is also available for specialists in pain medicine, critical care, and palliative care.

Blood Transfusion – An anesthesiologist will transfuse blood products as needed during surgery.


Critical Care – Anesthesiologists may, after the completion of residency training in anesthesiology, complete additional training (fellowship) in critical care.

Cardiac Anesthesiologist – Anesthesiologists may, after completion of residency training in anesthesiology, complete a fellowship in cardiac anesthesiology.

Central Access – Anesthesiologists may place lines in large central veins leading to the heart, allowing them to give large volumes of fluids and blood products and/or gain additional information necessary for the treatment of the patient.


Drugs – Anesthesiologists use the most potent drugs in the world to transport a patient safely through surgery. They are experts in the administration, effect, and toxicity of the drugs used in order to prevent awareness and pain during surgery.

Education – Anesthesiologists must provide proof of continuing medical education to maintain board eligibility.

Epidurals – Anesthesiologists may place epidural catheters in order to reduce pain in labor and in the postoperative setting. They may also place epidurals to block pain during surgery. Pain specialists may place epidurals for chronic pain.


Endotracheal Tube – An endotracheal tube is a device that is placed in the trachea by an anesthesiologist to ensure that the patient’s airway remains open.


Facemask – The anesthesiologist uses a facemask to provide mask ventilation. A pediatric anesthesiologist may use a facemask to give anesthesia to kids.


General Anesthesia – The goal of general anesthesia is to make the patient unconscious, thereby lacking any awareness or sensation.


Heart-Lung Bypass – The cardiac anesthesiologist is responsible for maintaining adequate levels of anesthesia and amnesia during heart-lung bypass.


Intravenous – Anesthesiologists use intravenous lines to administer drugs during the perioperative course.


Journals – Many anesthesiologists write for medical journals, covering anesthesia and drug research, clinical advances, pain medicine and more. Anesthesiologists must stay at the forefront of medicine by reading top medical journals.


Kids – Anesthesiologists may complete fellowship training in pediatric anesthesiology, giving them expertise in providing anesthesia to babies and children.


LMA – A laryngeal mask airway (LMA) is a device used by anesthesiologists as a less-invasive mechanism to provide ventilation. An LMA may not be the appropriate choice in many cases.

Local Anesthesia – With local anesthesia, only a specific location on the body, such as a hand or foot, is numbed.


Monitoring – Anesthesiologists use a variety of monitors to assist them in providing safe anesthesia, including heart rate, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, end tidal carbon dioxide, and temperature.


Neuroanesthesia – Anesthesiologists who subspecialize in neuroanesthesia have expertise in any surgery that affects the brain, spine, or spinal cord.

Nerve Blocks – Anesthesiologists who have completed a fellowship in pain medicine can place nerve blocks to treat pain.


Obstetrics Anesthesia – Anesthesiologist may subspecialize in OB anesthesia to provide advanced care to patients in labor or for C-section. They may place epidurals to reduce the pain of labor or provide anesthesia for C-sections.


Pain Medicine – Anesthesiologists, along with other subspecialists in medicine, can complete further training and become board certified in pain medicine. This allows them to perform procedures and provide medications in the treatment of pain.

Palliative Care – Anesthesiologists, along with other subspecialists in medicine, can complete further training and become board certified in palliative care, which allows them to provide care and pain relief to dying patients.

Procedures – Anesthesiologists utilize a variety of procedures to provide anesthesia to patients, including IVs, central lines, epidurals, intubations, spinals, and nerve blocks.


Quick Response – In many hospitals, the anesthesiology team is responsible for obtaining full control of the airway if a patient stops breathing, requiring a quick response.


Regional Anesthesia – Regional anesthesia blocks the nerve or nerves that supply the area of surgery, allowing the surgeon to operate without the patient feeling the surgery. Regional anesthesia is also used for pain relief after a trauma.

Research – Many anesthesiologists who work in academic institutions participate in both basic science and clinical research, putting the field of anesthesiology at the forefront of medical advancement.


Simulation – Many real-life simulators have been developed to assist anesthesiologists in their training.

Spinal – A spinal is a type of anesthesia administered to make a patient numb in the area of surgery. Many C-sections are performed using spinal anesthesia.


TEE - Transesophageal Echocardiogram – This special type of study, which may be performed by an anesthesiologist, provides information about the heart for use by the anesthesiologist and the surgeon.


Ultrasound – Anesthesiologists may use an ultrasound machine to assist them in the placement of nerve blocks or central lines.


Vigilance – Anesthesiologists closely monitor the patient as well as the environment during the provision of anesthesia.


Weight – The dosages of many of the drugs used in anesthesiology are based on weight.


X-ray – Anesthesiologists provide anesthesia for children undergoing MRI or CT who are too young to follow instructions, as well as for adults with disabilities or severe claustrophobia.


YOU – You can find additional information at


Zzz – What your anesthesiologist deserves at the end of the day.