Neuroanesthesiology is a medical specialty that provides anesthesia for procedures involving the head, neck, and spine. Anesthesia alters patients' consciousness to manage pain and sensation during major surgical or medical procedures. Neuroanesthesiologists enable neurosurgeons to successfully perform critical and life saving treatments. Conditions which may require a neuroanesthesiologist can include spinal cord conditions, tumors, traumatic injuries, arterial or blood vessel malformations, and aneurysms. While general anesthetists can provide anesthesia services during neurosurgery (among many other kinds of surgery), neuroanesthesiologists exclusively handle neurosurgery and interventional neuroradiology procedures. Operations in which a neuroanesthesiologist might participate include, but are not limited to:
Before a neuroradiology or neurosurgery procedure begins, a patient will be supplied with an inhalation mask or intravenous drip (IV) through which anesthesiology can enter their body. Neuroanesthesiologists monitor patients' vital signs through the entire time their procedures are performed. Neuroanesthesiologists assess the patients' breathing, oxygen levels, blood pressure, and pain response on a continuous basis. Levels of anesthesia can be modified to match the patients' conditions. The amount of anesthesia used is also determined by the type of procedure. Some surgical procedures require patients to remain awake or partially awake. In these cases, a neuroanesthesiologist will administer enough anesthesia to relieve pain, but not enough to induce unconsciousness.
Neuroanesthesiologists can collaborate with neurologists, neurosurgeons, and neuroradiologists. Neuroanesthesiologists may additionally oversee a neuroanesthesiology team composed of nurse anesthetists (CRNA's), anesthesia technicians, and other anesthesia physicians.