Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and to the total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.
Experienced and certified
St. Vincent’s anesthesiologists are experienced physicians certified by the American Board of Anesthesiologists after having completed a four-year anesthesiology residency program in this specialty. Most have performed an additional year of training in cardiac, vascular, neurology and pediatric anestesiology. Our certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, are advanced practice nurses who have extensive training in the application of anesthetics and are recertified every two years.
These expert medical professionals address your comfort and safety using the most up-to-date pain medications and anesthetics available when they are required for treatment or for surgery at St. Vincent’s. As an example, St. Vincent’s peripheral nerve block program provides the latest continuous anesthesia technique proven to be extremely successful in limiting severe pain for several hours after joint surgery.
Above all, stringent monitoring of all pain-control substances and techniques through use of best practices and state-of-the-art technology is recognized as critical to our patients’ care. St. Vincent’s anesthesiologists and CRNAs ensure that our surgical and other patients who require it are exposed to the most effective but only the safest - levels of anesthesia.
Limiting the risks of anesthesia
Any operation or type of anesthesia can pose a risk to the patients, which is why our surgeons, anesthesiologists and CRNAs are highly trained and carefully reviewed for their skills before certification.
Here at St. Vincent’s, great care is taken in determining the type and amount of anesthesia appropriate for you to have, which delivery technique to use, and implementing that delivery. This includes:
- Knowing your age, condition, allergies, health history, family illnesses, etc.
- Coordinating the process with your care team
- Answering any questions you may have
- Explaining what you can or can’t eat or drink before or after surgery
- Closely monitoring your condition before, during and after surgery experience
Different types of pain-control
- Anesthesia produces a loss of feeling and/or consciousness
- Analgesia does not produce loss of consciousness but blocks pain
- Some drugs produce levels of sedation (mild, moderate or deep) to relax the patient, sometimes producing drowsiness but not rendering the patient unconscious
- Medications can be delivered through a breathing mask (as gas) or via a thin plastic tube (IV) directly into the vein
For your surgery or procedure at St. Vincent’s, your physician will recommend a highly qualified anesthesiologist or anesthetist to provide this critical service.
New continuous anesthesia eases pain from joint surgery
The newly implemented Continuous Regional Block Program at St. Vincent’s Medical Center is having a positive impact on the patient-care experience after orthopedic surgery. Patients who select this form of pain management are better able to handle the first sessions of physical therapy recommended soon after surgery, which have traditionally been painful.
“Continuous anesthesia can dramatically reduce pain and the risk of postoperative surgical stress,” said St. Vincent’s Chairman of Anesthesiology Thomas R. Bladek, MD. “It has fewer of the side affects associated with other pain medications and reduces the length of hospital stays, thus lowering costs.”
An Efficient Delivery System
The continuous anesthesia process involves an initial needle stick to numb the area where a catheter will be inserted to deliver nerve-blocking medication during surgery. “The tubing carries medication to the site for two to three days,” said David Y. Lo, MD, an anesthesiologist recently welcomed on board at St. Vincent’s. “This is a great improvement over oral or IV pain medication in that it specifically targets the nerves involved.”
Dr. Lo’s expertise with this type of anesthesia reflects the more than 3000 peripheral nerve blocks/catheters he has performed within a three-year period. “Putting the catheter in takes only a few minutes,” he explained. “The patient feels a bit of pressure, and fairly soon the anesthesia takes over as the surgery begins and through the next couple of days.”
The pump delivers nerve block to the site according to how long the patient has chosen, up to three days. “It’s important to know that nothing can ensure a100-percent painless experience,” Dr. Lo said. “But on a scale of one to 10 for pain, this drops the pain to a substantially lower number.”
Good News for Joint Replacement Patients
“Bones have nerves, and joint replacement of the knee involves multiple cuts in each of the three bones of the knee, kneecap, thigh and shin bones,” said Peter S. Boone, an orthopedic surgeon on staff at St. Vincent’s. “It’s traditionally one of the most painful surgeries. Being able to offer patients this form of anesthesia is therefore extremely helpful.”
Dr. Boone agreed that most other pain medications produce side effects not seen with continuous anesthesia. “Patients can have nausea, vomiting, disorientation and urine retention,” he said. “These can make it difficult to mobilize the patient. This method of sedation assists in getting patients up faster when the pain would otherwise be at its worst. Once the catheter is removed, regular medication is taken to help with pain.”
“The aim is to afford our patients at St. Vincent’s effective surgical solutions to joint problems that disrupt their lives with pain and discomfort,” said Dr. Bladek. “The Continuous Nerve Block Program plays a significant role in achieving that goal.”
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