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6. Q. Do the benefits of anesthesia surpass the risks?

A. The risks of anesthesia are quite minimal. But in each case, the patient must weigh the benefits of the surgery (there is no need to give an anesthetic unless there is a need to do surgery) against the risks of the SURGERY AND THE ANESTHESIA! In some cases, the benefits or the surgery do not justify exposing the patient to the risks of anesthesia, such as when a patient with severe congestive heart failure may also have a painful knee. Although an artificial knee could reduce the pain, the patient in consultation with his or her physicians including the anesthesiologist, needs to weigh the benefits of a new knee with no pain versus the potential of more damage to the heart from the effects of anesthesia. Each case and each patient must be addressed as an individual, unique and different from any other patient.

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7. Q. Would today's surgeries be possible without general anesthesia?

A. The simple answer is "NO!" Before anesthesia was first administered by Dr. Crawford W. Long in Jefferson, Georgia in 1842, the surgical treatment of diseases and trauma was extremely rare. On those rare occasions, patients suffering from gangrene of a leg or a serious fracture would be drugged with alcohol or morphine, and then restrained while a fast surgeon would perform the procedure. The accounts of these operations are horrifying. It is amazing how Dr. Long's discovery of ether as an anesthetic and the first public demonstration of an anesthetic by Dr. William T.G. Morton at Harvard in 1846 revolutionized the treatment of life-threatening ailments. The discovery of ether as an anesthetic at that time was unique because it was an American event, whereas most medical discoveries up to that time originated in Europe.

8. Q. What qualities should a person possess to be successful in this career?

A. To be successful in anesthesiology, it goes without saying that you must excel academically, but also an anesthesiologist has to be incredibly detailed-oriented, skillful at procedures, calm in stressful situations, and warm and caring to ease patients anxiety.

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