DISEASESMedical specialties

What is anesthesia? when does an anesthesiologist intervene?


What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the medical specialty concerned with providing assistance and analgesia during surgical procedures.

Anesthesia is a prerequisite for performing a surgical, obstetrical or medical act. It eliminates the pain caused by the intervention and reduces it afterwards. Remember that there are two types of anesthesia :

  • general anesthesia, which causes loss of consciousness and is comparable to sleep;
  • locoregional anesthesia, which puts only one part of the body to sleep, leaves the patient conscious but does not cause him to feel any pain.

The anesthetist (anaesthesiologist in Quebec) takes care of putting patients (or part of their body) to sleep during surgery to prevent them from feeling any pain. He follows them after they wake up and takes care of their post-operative pain.

When does an anesthesiologist intervene?

All surgical procedures require the intervention of an anaesthetist/anesthesiologist, whether it involves cardiac, digestive or ocular surgery or to reduce a fracture. It can also intervene during childbirth (epidural anesthesia), a hysterectomy or a caesarean section (spinal anesthesia).

What does the anesthesiologist do?

Before undergoing an operation requiring anesthesia, an anesthetist-resuscitator/anaesthesiologist should be consulted:

  • he checks his patient’s state of health and questions him. He notes his medical and family history. The data collected is recorded in the patient’s medical file and can be consulted on the day of the intervention;
  • he suggests the most appropriate anesthesia;
  • he informs her about the progress of the anesthesia.

Note that in an emergency, anesthesia is performed without prior consultation with the anesthetist/anesthesiologist.

During the intervention, he practices anesthesia:

  • for general anesthesia, the drugs are injected by an infusion or by breathing;
  • for locoregional anaesthesia, the product is injected locally to block the nerve supplying the area to be operated on.

What are the risks during anesthesia?

All anesthesia carries risks. Complications are rare, but can be cardiac, respiratory, neurological, allergic or infectious. General anesthesia can cause vomiting and nausea upon waking, sore throat, dental trauma, numbness, difficulty concentrating or even memory.

Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor if these symptoms persist. Concerning locoregional anaesthesia, the major risks are more or less extensive insensitivity, convulsions, cardiovascular accident or injury to a nearby organ.

How to become an anesthesiologist?

Anesthetist training in France

To become an anesthetist, the student must obtain a diploma of specialized studies (DES) in anesthesia-resuscitation:

  • he must first follow 6 years at the faculty of medicine, after his baccalaureate;
  • at the end of the 6th year, the students pass the national ranking tests to gain access to the boarding school. Depending on their ranking, they will be able to choose their specialty and their place of practice. The internship lasts 5 years and ends with obtaining the DES in anesthesia-resuscitation.

Finally, to be able to exercise and bear the title of doctor, the student must also submit a research thesis.

Anesthetist training in Quebec

After college studies, the student must:

  • follow a 1st cycle doctorate in medicine, lasting 4 or 5 years (with or without a preparatory year for medicine for students admitted with a college or university education deemed insufficient in fundamental biological sciences);
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 then specialize by following a residency in anesthesiology for 5 years. 

Prepare your visit

Before going to an appointment with an anaesthesiologist/anesthesiologist, it is important to take recent prescriptions, but also your medical file.

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