Who is an Anaesthetist?

An Anaesthetist is a doctor who has specialised in Anaesthesia after finishing a university medical degree and then has completed at least two years as a hospital doctor within Australia. During their training, Anaesthetists become experts in pain management, resuscitation, and care of the critically ill patients.

Overall it takes at least 12 years of training and many examinations to become a specialist Anaesthetist.

What is anaesthesia?

‘Anaesthesia’ is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘without sensation’.

Anaesthesia may be applied to the whole body, which is known as general anaesthesia, or to part of the body, which is known as regional or local anaesthesia. All anaesthesia involves giving specific drugs that interfere with the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain so as to reduce sensation including consciousness, memory and pain. ‘Anaesthetic’ is the term used to describe some or all of the drugs used to produce anaesthesia.

What are the types of anaesthesia?

General anaesthesia

You are put into a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness for the duration of the operation, and will have no awareness of other sensations including pain. You will often be asked to breathe oxygen through a mask just before your anaesthesia starts. Anaesthesia will usually be initiated by the injection of medications through a cannula placed in your vein and maintained with intravenous drugs or a mixture of gases which you will breathe. Your Anaesthetist will be monitoring your condition closely and constantly adjusting your level of anaesthesia throughout your operation.

Regional anaesthesia

Regional anaesthesia is when local anaesthetic drugs are injected near to bundles of nerves to numb only the area of your body which requires surgery. You may remain awake for the surgery, or you may be given a sedative.
Spinal or epidural blocks numb sensation from your legs or abdomen by the injection of local anaesthetic medications into or near the spinal canal.
Other regional blocks are performed for surgery on eyes, limbs or extremities.

Local anaesthesia

A local anaesthetic numbs a small part of your body. It is used when the nerves can easily be reached by drops, sprays, ointments or injections. You stay conscious but free from pain.


Sedation “twilight anaesthesia” is where your Anaesthetist administers medications to make you relaxed and drowsy. Recall of events is possible with sedation.

What is the process of anaesthesia?

Patient safety is central to everything that Anaesthetists do, and this allows us to bring patients safely through the most challenging of operations. The foundation of safe anaesthesia is the high level of training involved to become a specialist Anaesthetist.

Modern surgical techniques would not be possible without the anaesthetic drugs, techniques and the equipment that Anaesthetists use today.

Your Anaesthetist will stay with you for the duration of the operation and monitor you closely.
Ultimately your well-being before, during and immediately following surgery is the responsibility of your Anaesthetist.

Your Anaesthetist is responsible for:

  • Assessing your health and advising you on which type of anaesthetic is suitable for your surgery. Questions are encouraged. A plan for your anaesthetic will be determined after discussion with you.
  • Giving you an anaesthetic and keeping you safe and well during surgery. Your Anaesthetist stays with you all the way through your operation. Modern equipment and monitoring will be used to assess your condition continuously throughout your operation and your Anaesthetist will keep you safe and well by administering medications and fluids as required.
  • Planning your emergence from anaesthesia and pain relief so that you are as comfortable, nausea free and healthy as possible in the recovery room immediately after surgery.

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