Anesthesiologists are specialized physicians educated and trained to perform specific procedures on patients. According to the O*NET OnLine web site, these tasks include administering anesthesia during surgical procedures, using several methods such as epidurals and providing airway management and life support for patients. Anesthesiologists must also monitor vital functions before, after and during procedures. There are several tools that help anesthesiologist perform their jobs.
Anesthesiologists use an anesthesia machine to provide a continuous supply of gasses such as nitrous oxide and oxygen. The Clinical Window web site describes the components of an anesthesia machine. Anesthesia machines have a control system with digital flow meters that allow the anesthesiologists to provide safe mixtures of medical gasses to patients. Machines include a ventilator that moves air into and out of a patients lungs when they can not breathe themselves. Anesthesia machines have monitors that measure vital functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and oxygen saturation. The scavenging system on an anesthesia machine removes excessive gasses from the operating room to decrease the risk of exposing personnel to anesthetic gases. Anesthetic vaporizers are devices sometimes attached to an anesthesia machine that change a liquid anesthetic to a vapor.
Stethoscopes are common medical tools used my most doctors. An anesthesiologist will use a stethoscope during and after a procedure to monitor a patients vital functions. A stethoscope allows the anesthesiologist to listen to breath sounds and heart beats, according to the Encyclopedia of Surgery web site.
If an anesthesiologist needs to provide life support by performing a endotracheal intubation, she will use a laryngoscope. The Encyclopedia of Surgery web site says that a laryngoscope allows the anesthesiologist to view the larynx and vocal cords while guiding the tube into a patient's trachea to open an airway.
While evaluating a patient before administering an anesthetic, an anesthesiologist may use a endoscope to perform a diagnostic procedure to look for conditions such as breathing problems. A endoscope consists of a long flexible tube with a camera at the end which takes images of a patients internal organs. A specialized endoscope that an anesthesiologist might use is a bronchoscope, which examines the lungs and air passages.
A epidural distributes anesthesia through a epidural catheter placed in a patient's epidural space, located in the spinal cord. Before administering a epidural, an anesthesiologist will use a local anesthetic to numb the needle insertion spot. A Tuohy Needle is a hollow needle with a curved end that is used to insert epidural catheters. After the tip of the Tuohy needle reaches the epidural space, the catheter, a small plastic tube, is threaded through the needle. The needle is removed and the catheter remains to provide continuous anesthesia. An anesthesiologist uses an adhesive to tape the tube to the patient's back.