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Department of Anesthesiology

Overview of Department

The Department of Anesthesiology at Wakayama Medical University was established as a hospital department in 1964 and began to offer courses formally as the Department of Anesthesiology in 1971 (the first professor was Hideaki Ueyama). The Department has since made a contribution to improving clinical anesthesia, pain clinics, and intensive care.
The Department is currently focused on clinical anesthesia and is engaged in pain clinics, palliative care, and painless childbirth. In terms of clinical anesthesia, we are involved in the anesthetic management of patients of all kinds, ranging from infants to the elderly and from emergency diseases and traumatic diseases to patients with malignancies. We are in charge of the anesthetic management of about 5400 operative cases each year, and we strive to provide safe, high quality anesthetic management using the latest ultrasound devices and physiological monitors. In addition, we are also proactively involved in postoperative as well as intraoperative pain management.
In our pain clinics, pain is treated by a specialist in the Japan Society of Pain Clinicians. We work to provide safe, high quality pain management by means of drug therapy, nerve blocking, and neural rehabilitation for pain ranging from acute pain such as postoperative pain to chronic pain such as neurogenic pain. We treat the pain of around 3000 patients each year.
In terms of palliative care, a specialist in the Japanese Society of Palliative Medicine is involved in easing physical pain and psychological distress in cancer patients. We manage a palliative care team and palliative care ward, and provide palliative care to a wide range of patients, from patients in treatment to terminal stage patients.

Regarding painless childbirth, we work together with the Department of Obstetrics to ease pain during delivery. We manage around 50 cases of childbirth each year.

Educational Overview

For late stage residents, we have created a fourth year anesthesiologist program in which the University and teaching hospitals work together to teach residents. Wakayama Medical University Hospital is one of only a few national and public university hospitals where students can learn about all cases of anesthesia, from neonatal to elderly patients, and from emergency diseases and traumatic diseases to patients with malignancies. In addition, each teaching facility has its own distinctive features, and it is possible to learn from a rich variety of cases of anesthesia, The Department provides instruction from anesthesiologists and also from cardiac anesthesia specialists, physicians certified in transesophageal echo, physicians certified in pediatric anesthesia, and experts in regional anesthesia. In addition, case conferences provide an opportunity for the deep understanding of individual cases, and review conferences enable the learning of highly specialized knowledge. In addition to acquiring the experience, skills, and knowledge required by a specialist, students are guided in the preparation of conference presentations and academic papers at the earliest possible stage. Experience in preparing academic papers is a must for acquiring the ability to provide anesthetic care from a scientific perspective. During the training period, students are encouraged to make presentations to national and international conferences and write academic papers on their case reports and clinical research, and we work to nurture professional anesthesiologists striking a balance between practice and science.

After qualifying as an anesthesiologist, we provide an education program aimed at enabling the acquisition of a subspeciality. In the field of anesthesiology, the following subspecialities are currently available: cardiovascular anesthesiologist, pain clinic specialist, palliative care specialist, and intensive care specialist. Specialists in each field are at work in the Department and we are promoting the learning and acquisition of a subspeciality.

Furthermore, we hold training programs (Wakayama Anesthesiology School) as part of lifelong learning, and we are working to improve knowledge and skills after the acquisition of a speciality and a subspeciality.

Research Overview

The Department has so far focused its research on vascular pharmacology, and has accumulated an extensive track record. We have recently been prioritizing pain research and research into mechanisms of anesthesia. The field of anesthesiology was established to overcome pain experienced during surgery. The Department is engaged in animal and human studies of how pain is sensed at the periphery, how pain is modified by the spinal cord, and how pain is recognized by the brain. Recently, we have been engaged in research into cancer pain, and we have discovered some mechanisms for cancer pain where previously there was a blank space and have reported on some novel treatment methods. Furthermore, we are also engaged in pain research in humans using functional MRI.