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Medical specialty dealing with anesthesia and related matters, including resuscitation and pain. Originally concerned only with general anesthesia in the operating room, anesthesiology now includes epidural anesthesia (injection of local anesthetics into the spinal fluid, cutting off feeling below the point of injection); artificial respiratory support during operations requiring paralyzing drugs that render patients unable to breathe; clinical management of all unconscious patients; management of pain relief and cardiac and respiratory resuscitation problems; respiratory therapy; and treatment of fluid, electrolyte, and metabolic disturbances. Progress in anesthesiology has made possible more complex operations and surgery for more critically ill patients. The anesthesiologist's role has become increasingly important and complex.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on anesthesiology, visit Britannica.com.