American Society of Anesthesiologists defines “Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.” However, the modern field of anesthesiology has widened to critical care, stabilization of patient in any condition, and pain relieves in various circumstances.
Pain is one of the most visible symptoms of various ailments. Although it is the defensive reaction of the body, however, it may become a problem in certain conditions. Severe uncontrolled pain may cause shock and death. Pain sensation makes surgical procedures extremely difficult.
People have tried to use various substances to relieve pain from the prehistorical times. There is enough evidence to suggest that humans started to use opioids (poppy, opium) about 6000 years ago for pain relief.
Chinese were first to attempt the pain relief without the use of any substance, through acupuncture.
History of modern anesthesiology started in themid-18th century in Europe, with the beginning of application of ether in surgical procedures. 18th and 19th century saw the discovery of various medications and anesthetic agents.
Early 20th century saw the discovery of local anesthetics, thus the ability to relieve extreme pain without making a person unconscious.
Modern understanding of Anesthesiology
The primary scope of the field of anesthesiology is pain relief, whether such relief is required for specific medical procedures, surgery, or in a disease condition. Initially, the focus of anesthesiology was pain relief during and after the surgery, and most people imagine this field that way.
The progress of anesthesiology played an essential part in the development of surgery. It provided surgeons way of operating people without worrying about their severe reactions, voluntary reactions to pain. Anesthesiologists not only relieves pain if needed makes a person temporarily unconscious for pain relief, helps to relax the musculature for more uncomplicated surgery, and much more. During operation, anesthesiologist ensures the stability of vitals of the patient, so that surgeon does not need to worry about them.
However, with the advancement of medicine, field of anesthesiology has widened. Today in many countries practitioners of anesthesiology also run pain clinics, as they are most intensively trained in the area. Further, anesthesiologist plays an important role in acute resuscitation or revival of seriously ill patients.
As mentioned in the definition that anesthesiologist is also responsible for the care of the patient after the surgery, with time, post-operative care evolved as a separate field called critical care. Many anesthesiologists specialize in critical care. Thus today one may find the graduates of anesthesiology working in various critical-care departments, helping to keep the patient stable after the heart attack, helping to keep the airway clear of obstruction, often working along with other specialists.
A modern practitioner of anesthesiology may work in a multi-specialty team to provide care to patients suffering from various ailments. All specialists of anesthesiology are well trained to relieve pain, keep a person stable, and even revive them if required.