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    Glossary of Anesthesia Terminology

    The following words and phrases represent some of the most common equipment, pharmaceuticals and conditions associated with the discipline of anesthesia medicine. This list is not intended to be comprehensive, but it will help you to understand much of the basic terminology. Hopefully, these definitions will be a useful reference to those learning about opportunities in the anesthesia field.

    anesthesia (also spelled anaesthesia) – a combination of medications administered to a patient to block pain and other sensations, at times rendering the patient unconscious, so that medical or surgical procedures can be performed; anesthesia can be general, regional or local

    anesthesia awareness – when a patient under general anesthesia receives insufficient medication or the anesthesia wears off too quickly to prevent consciousness and recall, which can be very traumatic if the patient is undergoing a surgical procedure

    anesthesiologist – a medical doctor who administers anesthesia and monitors and manages patients before, during and immediately following a medical or surgical procedure; anesthesiologists can also practice pain management, critical or intensive care medicine and can administer and monitor epidural anesthesia in child labor and delivery, among other specialties

    catheter – a rubber or flexible plastic tube inserted in the veins or arteries to deliver medications to the body or expel fluids from it

    central venous catheter – a catheter placed in a large vein, such as the jugular vein in the neck, to infuse large amounts of medication or fluid

    certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) – like an anesthesiologist, a CRNA administers anesthesia and monitors and manages patients before, during and immediately following a medical or surgical procedure; CRNAs work in collaboration with anesthesiologists, surgeons and other healthcare practitioners and have advanced training and a master's degree

    diazepam – used as pre-medication for minor medical procedures or surgeries and for sedation with amnesia in procedures such as endoscopy

    endotracheal tube (also called ET tube or ETT) – a breathing tube, usually made of flexible plastic, inserted in a patient’s trachea to ensure the airway remains open and protected so air is able to reach the patient’s lungs; used during induction and intubation

    epidural anesthesia – a type of regional anesthesia where a small catheter is inserted in the back just inside the spinal canal (the epidural space) to allow infusion of local anesthetic, completely numbing pain and preventing movement below the bottom of the rib cage, or reducing the pain while still allowing movement (walking epidural); most commonly used in labor and delivery

    ether – general name for a class of inhaled anesthetics used in the induction and maintenance of anesthesia

    general anesthesia – a combination of medications given to a patient to render a state of managed, reversible unconsciousness, amnesia and analgesia; can be administered by injection or inhalation, though injection is very rapid, producing desired results within 10 to 20 seconds

    halothane – an inhaled anesthetic used in the induction and maintenance of anesthesia that is generally well-tolerated

    induction – in general anesthesia, where a patient slips from a conscious to an unconscious state

    intravenous catheter (commonly referred to as IV) – a catheter inserted into the vein(s) to give medications and fluids before, during and after surgery or a medical procedure

    intubate/intubation – placement of a flexible plastic tube in the trachea to protect and support the airway and allow for mechanical or artificial respiration; usually done when the patient is asleep

    ketamine – a disassociative anesthetic administered intravenously and used in the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia

    laryngeal mask airway (commonly referred to as LMA) – a tube with an inflatable cuff that is inserted into the pharynx after induction to manage breathing while unconscious, similar to an endotracheal tube; an LMA causes less irritation than an ETT and is useful in specific situations, though it does not prevent aspiration

    laryngoscope – a device that permits the anesthesiologist to view the glottis and vocal cords to protect them from possible injury with intubation

    local anesthesia – an injection or topical application of medication that causes that part of the body to become insensitive to pain and stimuli

    lidocaine – used for local or regional anesthesia; can be injected or applied topically

    morphine – used to supplement general anesthesia and for pain management during and after surgery

    nitrous oxide – an inhaled anesthetic used in the maintenance of anesthesia; a weaker medication, it cannot be used alone but allows other, more toxic, anesthetics to be reduced

    regional anesthesia – a medication used to anesthetize a portion of the body, such as an arm or leg

    sedation – medication(s) that create a state of calm and reduced pain and/or anxiety; used in conjunction with local anesthesia for minor procedures, such as endoscopy or dental work, or prior to general anesthesia

    sodium pentothal/sodium thiopental – a rapid-onset, short-acting general anesthetic administered intravenously; most commonly used in the induction phase of anesthesia



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