Department of Anaesthesiology
The word “Anaesthesia” is coined from two Greek words “an” meaning “without” and “aesthesis” meaning “sensation”. The word anaesthesia was used by the Greek philosopher Plato during 348 B.C to relieve the pain of surgery. History goes back to 3000 B C when attempts were made to relieve the pain of surgery. But it was a dream till William Thomas Green Morton on Friday 16 October 1846 successfully administered the right agent, before the right people, in the right place, at the right moment in History, ensured the news of his success of relieving pain during surgery spread rapidly round the world and contributed to a revolution in the practice of Surgery.
Slowly the word ‘Anaesthesia employed on its own has come to be used for the scientific discipline devoted to the relief of the pain of surgery and now know as ‘Anaesthesiology “and the person who has specialized and have the knowledge of this is called “Anaesthesiologist”. It is therefore preferable to confine the use of the ‘anaesthesia’ to denote the scientific discipline, to use the term ‘General anaesthesia’ for the process of producing unconsciousness during surgery, ‘Analgesia’ designate particularly the relief of pain without loss of consciousness and ‘Local Anaesthesia’ for the process of abolishing the appreciation of pain in part of the body.
Anaesthesia refers to the practice or administering medications either by injection or by inhalation (breathing in ) that block the feeling of pain and other sensation, or that produce a deep state of unconsciousness that eliminates all sensation, which allows medical and surgical procedures to be undertaken without causing undue distress or discomfort. An Anaesthesiologist is a specialist with a post graduate degree in Anaesthesia ( Allopathic medicine) .
The early Anaesthesiologists in the second half of the nineteenth century were concerned only with relieving the pain of surgery and ensuring that the patient recovered from the effects of the anaesthetic agents required to achieve that end. The modern Anaesthesiologist in the 21st century, in addition to safely securing unconsciousness and pain relief in the face of the very major and traumatic surgical procedures undertaken, now has to manage patients at the extremes of age and those suffering from major systemic disease. It is a compliment to the skills of the modern specialty of Anaesthesia that few patients are considered too old, too young or too ill for modern surgical intervention, but it imposes a heavy responsibility.
For general information of the common person there are various means for achieving pain free medical or surgical procedures. They are listed below with little bit of general understanding what is being done:
a. Procedural sedation: - Procedural sedation is used for procedures where general anaesthesia is not required and allows patients to tolerate procedures that would otherwise be uncomfortable or painful.
b. Conscious sedation: - Conscious sedation is defined as a medication- induced state that reduces the patient’s level of consciousness during which the patient can respond purposefully to verbal commands or light stimulation by touch.
c. Analgesia: - Analgesia is the reduction or elimination of the pain by medications that act locally, such as local anaesthetics (which interfere with nerve conduction) or generally such as opioid medications (which decrease the patient’s experience of pain in the central nervous system).
d. Regional Anaesthesia: - Regional anaesthesia involves the injection of local anaesthetic in the vicinity of major nerve bundles supplying body areas, such as the thigh, ankle, forearm, hand or shoulder etc. Regional anaesthesia used to describe nerve blocks, spinal blocks and epidural blocks.
Regional anaesthesia is sometimes achieved by using a nerve-locating device, such as a nerve stimulator, or by using ultrasound so that local anaesthetics can be delivered with improved accuracy. Once the local anaesthetic is injected in the desired region, patients may experience numbness and tingling in the area supplied by the nerves and it may become difficult or impossible to move that part of the body.
e. General Anaesthesia: - General anaesthesia produces a drug induced state where the patient will not respond to any stimuli, including pain. It may be associated with changes in breathing and circulation.
Today’s ‘balanced anaesthesia’ involves the use of intravenous and parenteral as well as the inhalational routes of administration, the use of general and local analgesics to inhibit detrimental reflexes to produce muscular relaxation including respiratory paralysis which makes controlled ventilation mandatory.
At the end anaesthesia has come as a big boon to relieve the pain, agony and suffering of the mankind with the expert knowledge achieved by the Anaesthesiologist in the field of Anaesthesia. Have faith in your Anaesthesiologist who will be with you in the operation theatre and outside the operation theatre to serve you to relieve your pain to a great extent. Rest of your care will be taken over by the Almighty.