Cardiac anesthesiology is a medical subspecialty that provides anesthesia for cardiac (heart) surgery, electrophysiology, and other interventional cardiac procedures. Anesthesia is an intravenous (IV) or inhalant substance; it alters patient consciousness to reduce sensation and movement during medical operations. Cardiac anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to manage patients' pain and ensure patient safety during complex cardiac treatments. Cardiac anesthesiologists may perform anesthesia for the following procedures:
Prior to a patient's procedure, a cardiac anesthesiologist completes an anesthetic evaluation assessing patient cardiac history, physical health, breathing, and allergies. Anesthesia may be administered through an intravenous (IV) catheter. Throughout a procedure, cardiac anesthesiologists monitor patients' blood loss, vital signs, and breathing, administering more or less anesthesia if necessary. Constant monitoring is made possible by the insertion of a central venous catheter to detect heart function, an arterial line to track blood pressure, and an ultrasound probe to image patients' cardiac inner structure and function. Following a procedure, a patient may be moved to the cardiothoracic intensive care unit (ICU), where a cardiac anesthesiologist or member of the anesthesiology team will regularly check the patient's postoperative pain and heart condition.
Cardiac anesthesiologists may collaborate with cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiac surgeons, and cardiac anesthesia technicians, among others. Cardiac anesthesiologists are physicians who complete anesthesiology training and an additional cardiac anesthesia fellowship program.