Med­ical spe­cial­ty: An­es­the­si­olo­gy

Anesthesiology is a medical specialty which is divided into the areas of anesthesia, pain therapy, emergency medicine and palliative care. Anesthesia is defined as complete elimination of all sensations, especially the sensation of pain.

The specialist in anesthesiology is responsible for general anesthesia and local anesthesia of patients. In the case of surgical interventions, the specialist takes care of their pre- and post-treatment and the vital functions during surgery.

Even in ancient times the Assyrians, Romans, Egyptians and Greeks knew the pain relieving effects of herbs and plants such as poppy, mandrake and henbane. During the 18th and 19th centuries (after discovery of oxygen in 1774), the mind-altering effects of different gases were discovered. The chemist Humphry Davy, for example, determined in a self-experiment that inhaling nitrous oxide overrode sensation of pain.

In 1846, finally, the first successful and painless anesthesia was performed by allowing the patient to inhale ether. The American dentist William Thomas Green Morton had discovered this method. Since then, he has been known as the inventor of modern anesthesia. The German surgeon Heinrich Braun revolutionized the local anesthesia by mixing cocaine with adrenaline.