Anesthesia Q&A

Is anesthesia safe?

According to a 1999 report released by the Institute of Medicine, anesthesia today is nearly 50 times safer than it was 20 years ago. New monitoring technologies and drugs, increased education, and more extensive professional standards have made the administration of anesthesia one of the safest aspects of a surgical or obstetrical procedure.

Who administers anesthesia?

In the majority of cases, anesthesia is administered by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). CRNA's work with your surgeion, dentist or podiatrist, and may work closely with an anesthesiologist. CRNA's are advanced practice nurses with specialized graduate-level education in anesthesiology. For more then 100 years, nurse anesthetists have been administering anesthesia in all types of surgical cases, using all anesthetic techniques and practicing in every setting in which anesthesia is administered.

Will a nurse anesthetist stay with me throughout my surgery?

The nurse anesthetist stays with you for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important function of your body and individually modifying your anesthetic to ensure your maximum safety and comfort.

Are there different types of anesthesia?

There are three basic types of anesthesia: General anesthesia produces a loss of sensation throughout the entire body; regional anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body; and local anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a small, specific area of the body. For more information go to

What determines which type of anesthesia is best for me?

The anesthesia chosen for you is based on factors such as your physical condition, the nature of the surgery and your reactions to medications.

Do different types of patients require different types of anesthesia?

Many factors go into determining the best anesthetic and administration technique for each person. Pregnant patients, children, older adults and patients with hereditary disorders such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia all require special consideration. Even lifestyle choices such as the use of complementary and alternative medicines, tobacco or alcohol can influence the anesthesia selection process.

Why haven't I heard about CRNA's? Are you a new profession?

Nurse anesthesia was established in the late 1800's as the first clinical nursing specialty in response to the growing need surgeons had for anesthetists. Nurse anesthetists, pioneers in anesthesia, have been administering anesthesia for more then 125 years and have played significant roles in developing the practice.

What is the difference between a CRNA and an anesthesiologist?

The most substantial difference between CRNA's and anesthesiologists is that prior to anesthesia education, anesthesiologists receive medical education while CRNA's receive nursing education. However, the anesthesia part of the education is very similar for both providers. They are both educated to use the same anesthesia process in the provision of anesthesia and related services, and both adhere to the same standards of patient care.

Tell me what to expect when I go for my anesthesia?

During the procedure, anesthesia allows you to be free of pain. All anesthesia care is provided with the highest degree of professionalism, including constant monitoring of every important body function. In addition to the nurse anesthetist role in the procedure itself, they also make many preparations for the patient before surgery. So it is important that the patient take an active role in these preparations by communicating and cooperating with their nurse anesthetist and surgeon.

What educational qualifications must all CRNAs have?

As advanced practice nurses, CRNA's receive their specialty anesthesia education in more then 90 accredited graduate programs offering a master's degree. Admission requirements include a BSN or other appropriate baccalaureate degree, RN license, and a minimum of one year of acute care nursing experience. The anesthesia curriculum covers advanced anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, biochemistry and physics related to anesthesia, advance pharmacology , and principles of anesthesia practice, plus hours of accredited program of nurse anesthesia education, the individual must successfully pass a national certification exam to hold the CRNA credential. Thereafter, the CRNA is committed to lifelong learning , with one requirement being 40 Continueing Education hours every two year for re-certification. From the commencement of the professional education in nursing, a minimum of seven years of education and training is involved in the preparation of a CRNA.

Where can consumers get more information about anesthesia?

Consumers are encouraged to call the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists at (847) 692-7050, or visit the AANA websites at and