ALL ABOUT ANESTHESIA
Valley Health’s expert anesthesiologists take care of the
whole person—before, during and after surgery
If you’ve ever had surgery, an anesthesiologist likely provided pain medication
and anesthesia to keep you comfortable and deeply relaxed—or even
temporarily unconscious—during the procedure. But did you know that
Valley Health’s anesthesiologists do far more? From lifesaving emergency
procedures and COVID care to monitoring your vital signs before, during
and after surgery and providing postoperative pain control, anesthesiologists
are “the ultimate behind-the-scenes players,” says anesthesiologist
Bryan Currie, DO, of Winchester Anesthesiologists.
Trained in anesthesia delivery, pain management and critical care
medicine, these specialists play important roles in every area of health care
at Valley Health. “We take care of the whole person,” says Casey Dowling,
DO, of Winchester Anesthesiologists and medical director of the START
Clinic at Winchester Medical Center, where surgery patients meet with an
anesthesiologist and receive pre- and post-op care.
Yet often, “people don’t realize we were part of their care,” Dr. Currie
notes. Read on to discover the many contributions anesthesiologists make
to your well-being at Valley Health.
BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER SURGERY
Anesthesiologists do more than administer sedatives before an operation,
says Elford Stephens, MD, associate director of Anesthesia Services
at Warren Memorial Hospital. “We sit down with patients beforehand,
introduce them to what anesthesia is, review their health history, the
medications and supplements they’re using, and discuss their concerns
and anxieties,” he explains.
Anesthesiologists collaborate with surgeons and other healthcare practitioners
on major surgeries and same-day procedures like joint replacement,
during labor and the delivery of babies, and in minimally invasive
procedures such as X-ray-guided heart valve replacement. They also
provide pain control and anesthesia for medical imaging tests. And they
work closely with physician specialists. “When a specialty in the hospital
offers a new, cutting-edge procedure, which happens frequently at Valley
Health, we rise to the occasion and train for it,” says Dr. Dowling.
Anesthesiologists tailor their approach to each procedure. Options include:
• General anesthesia: Used for most major surgeries,
general anesthesia involves inhaled and intravenous
drugs that lead to temporary loss of consciousness
so you won’t feel pain, move or be aware during the
procedure. Afterward, “you won’t remember what
happened,” Dr. Stephens notes. Your breathing and
other vitals are monitored by the anesthesiologist or
a certified nurse anesthetist during the procedure.
• Monitored anesthesia care (MAC): Often combined
with local or regional anesthesia to numb an area of
the body, MAC usually makes you feel very relaxed.
You may still be aware of your surroundings and able
to answer questions or, with deeper anesthesia, you
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