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An anaesthetist "checking the obs" on his "patient".

It's boring and difficult

The problem with anaesthetics is that there is about 20 minutes of action per day. And that you need to understand the physiology of the entire body in order to do your job. Some medical students (us) barely know the physiology of the toenail, let alone everything else. So, learn physiology! Also, learn the principles of anaesthesia!

Main types

The key types of anaesthesia you need to know are

  • local anaesthesia - where just a small area of tissue is numbed.
  • regional anaesthesia - where an area of the body is anaesthetised using an injection in nerves, eg. brachial plexus, or a spinal (into the subarachnoid space).
  • sedation - where a patient has their level of consciousness reduced, but do not need to have their airway managed.
  • general anaesthesia - where the patient is not conscious, and needs careful management of their airway and circulation.

Intensive Care

Also known as critical care, this area is for people that are severely ill - on the brink of the cliff that separates life and death. They get much higher levels of staffing; at least one-on-one care, often more. It is important to understand the physiology of the body, especially cardiac, respiratory, liver and renal. Your job is to keep people alive, and hope their bodies can do the rest.

Also important is:

As I didn't know where else to put it, I'm going to put acidosis and alkalosis here because I don't know where else they can go and I want to do the page on them.


  • Life support - You will had various sessions on this over the years. Refresh yourselves on it!
  • Intubation - sticking a tube down an airway so people can breathe. They always fight over it in House.
  • Malignant hyperpyrexia - this is the most critical side effect of general anaesthesia.