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The Penn State Health Approach to Anesthesiology

The anesthesiology team at Penn State Health cares for people undergoing medical procedures and those with chronic (ongoing) pain. We offer a full range of pain management services designed around each person’s needs.

As Pennsylvania's only academic medical center, we offer the latest advancements in pain control, backed by leading-edge research. Whether you need a procedure that requires pain control or you’re living with pain, you get personal attention from experts you can trust.

We provide anesthesia services across a broad range of medical specialties — from heart care and obstetrics to orthopedics, neurology and more. Our team also offers expert care to treat chronic pain that doesn’t respond to physical therapy or other traditional approaches.

When you choose Penn State Health, you get the very best care from an experienced team.

Complete Care for Pain Control

Our anesthesiology team offers safe, leading-edge pain control to ensure your health, safety and well-being. Whether you need pain control during a procedure, or you need relief from chronic pain related to an illness or injury, we offer advanced expertise — including children’s anesthesia services.

We provide all levels of pain control for medical procedures, from sedation (makes you relaxed and sleepy) to general anesthesia (puts you into a deep sleep). We also offer advanced approaches to relieve pain while you’re in the hospital or through outpatient treatment to manage chronic pain. Our anesthesiology team works with rehabilitation specialists and doctors in a full range of specialties to give you complete care.

Types of Anesthesia

There are different types of anesthesia, and your care team will tell you which type you will receive: 

  • Local anesthesia is injected near the area where you will have surgery to deaden the nerve endings so that the area is numb.
  • Regional anesthesia is injected near one of the major nerves allows you to feel your arm, leg, or another area of your body. This type of anesthesia lasts for several hours. It causes numbness and weakness of an entire arm or leg until it wears off.
  • Spinal, epidural or caudal anesthesia is an injection that numbs the major nerves in and around your spinal cord. It numbs a large area of your body, often the entire area below your waist. This type of anesthesia usually lasts for several hours. It can also be injected continuously through a small plastic tube to relieve pain for several days. Often, it causes numbness and weakness in your legs and lower body.
  • General anesthesia, provided by an anesthesiologist, puts you into a deep sleep so that your brain doesn’t receive pain signals from the rest of your body. This type of anesthesia also interrupts other functions of your brain, such as breathing - a machine takes over this function during your procedure.
  • Sedation, also called twilight sleep or monitored anesthesia care, is given through an IV by an anesthesiologist. It makes you feel calm and relaxed. It’s used for procedures that are uncomfortable rather than painful, and it’s often used with local or regional anesthesia. It lets you sleep through the procedure, and you don’t need a machine to help you breathe.

Your Pre-surgery Visit

Before your procedure, you'll meet with an anesthesiology team member for about two hours. They will do an exam and tests to prepare for your procedure and tell you what to expect.

Please bring the following to your appointment:

  • Name, address and telephone number of your primary care doctor and specialist (if you have one)
  • Insurance cards and claim forms
  • A list of medicines (including supplements and over-the-counter drugs) you’re taking, including dosages and when you take them - or just bring the bottles
  • Recent test results, including cardiac catheterization, stress tests, echocardiograms, pulmonary function tests, CT scans or others
  • A list of the type, date and location of any previous surgeries (particularly those with complications)
  • A description of any devices you have in your body - such as a pacemaker, an automatic internal cardioverter or a defibrillator - and the card issued with the device

How to Prepare

Your surgeon or anesthesiologist will provide specific instructions for how to prepare the night before your procedure. But, if you have questions, please call the preoperative evaluation center at 717-531-6886.

Unless your care team says otherwise, don't eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery. In some instances, you may be able to have liquids up to three hours before surgery.

Your surgeon or anesthesiologist will tell you which medicines you should take before your surgery. Unless you hear differently from your care team, stop taking all aspirin-containing products (such as Anacin, Bufferin or Alka-Seltzer) a week before your procedure, and stop all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin and Aleve) four days beforehand. If you’re taking herbal supplements, ask your care team how far in advance you should stop taking them.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

You receive trusted, expert care from a team that specializes in safe, comprehensive pain management. We use the latest advancements in pain control to ensure your comfort and well-being.

Advanced Expertise in a Wide Range of Medical Specialties

As an academic medical center, Penn State Health offers a level of expertise you won’t find anywhere else in Pennsylvania. Our anesthesiology team is experienced in the latest pain management approaches specific to neurosurgery, orthopedics, heart and vascular, lung, urology and other procedures.

We offer specialized pain control to patients in our intensive care and labor and delivery units, and for those undergoing liver, kidney and pancreas transplantations. Our in-house pain management specialists are available to patients 24/7 to ensure a comfortable, worry-free hospital experience.

Personalized Care for Chronic Pain

If you’re living with pain, we can help. Our anesthesiology team works with rehabilitation experts and doctors across a wide range of medical specialties to find what’s causing pain and provide relief.

The Penn State Health Chronic Pain Management Center team diagnoses and treats all types of chronic pain, including discomfort caused by conditions like cancer, musculoskeletal problems, autoimmune disease and more. You can depend on personal attention and treatment to help minimize pain and feel better.

Pain Research and Clinical Trials

Penn State Health is continually looking for new ways to relieve pain safely. Our anesthesiology team performs basic science research and clinical trials to test pain relief approaches for endometriosis, back pain and more. When you choose us, you can access today’s most promising advancements to relieve pain. Find out if a pain management clinical trial is right for you.

Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

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