Intro: Anesthesiology is a medical specialty that is practiced by physicians who specialize in anesthesia, pain management, and critical care medicine. Physician anesthesiologists provide or guide nearly 90 percent of the anesthetics used in the more than 100 million procedures performed every year in the United States. With 12 to 14 years of education and 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training, these physician specialists are the experts in anesthesia and in managing pain.

They play a vital role in a patient’s medical care, making decisions to protect and regulate critical life functions throughout the entire surgical experience. Specializing in perioperative care, development of an anesthetic plan, and the administration of anesthetics, physician anesthesiologists are there every step of the way. They also have extensive education and training to evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage the entire spectrum of patients’ medical conditions, while treating potentially life-threatening complications that can happen suddenly during surgery.

Pediatric Anesthesia: Pediatric anesthesiologists are responsible for the general anesthesia, sedation, and pain management needs of infants and children. Their job is to evaluate complex medical problems before surgery, ensure that anesthesia is safely administered during procedures, and create a plan of care that is specifically tailored to the child’s health. Physician anesthesiologists understand that children are often frightened about medical procedures and surgery. That is why they’re responsible for working with the parents, the child, and other doctors and nurses before, during and after the procedure to calm fears and ensure safety and comfort for their patients.

Pain Management: Many physician anesthesiologists specialize in diagnosing, managing, and treating pain. Pain includes a wide spectrum of disorders such as acute pain, chronic pain, and cancer-related pain, and at times it may reflect a combination of all three. Since the field of medicine continues to learn more about the complexities of pain, it has become more important to have physicians who have specialized knowledge and skills to treat these conditions. An in-depth knowledge of the physiology of pain, the ability to evaluate patients with complicated pain problems, proper prescription of medications, and skills to perform procedures (such as nerve blocks, electrical stimulation, and spinal injections) are all part of how a pain management specialist treats pain.

Obstetric: Obstetric anesthesia refers to anesthetic and pain-relieving care performed during labor and vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery. Obstetric anesthesiologists are responsible for pain management before a baby is born, during delivery and, post-delivery. They are in charge of knowing how anesthesia will affect the woman and the unborn child. There are a number of different options including an epidural, spinal block, analgesics, and general anesthesia, depending on the circumstances.

Critical Care: Physicians who specialize in critical care medicine play a pivotal role in improving patient outcomes and caring for critically ill patients who often have multiple illnesses. These physicians possess the medical knowledge and technical expertise to deal with many emergency and trauma situations in the ICU. Critical care anesthesiologists provide airway management, cardiac and pulmonary resuscitation, advanced life support and pain control, all of which are essential skills to the intensivist. As consultants, they play an active role in stabilizing and preparing the patient for emergency surgery and overseeing recovery afterward.

Neurosurgical: Some physician anesthesiologists specialize in neurosurgical anesthesia, which focuses on patients undergoing surgery on the brain or spinal cord. They have extensive training in brain and spinal cord physiology and function, and specialize in techniques to protect the nervous system.

Cardiovascular: Many physician anesthesiologists undergo special fellowship training in order to provide specialized care for patients undergoing surgery on the heart, lungs, or major blood vessels. Cardiac patients frequently have additional medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes or lung disease, which can complicate medical management. Cardiovascular anesthesiologists are specialists in anesthesia for procedures requiring cardiopulmonary bypass, and in diagnostic techniques such as echocardiography.