Neurosurgical anesthesia
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Fields of
Hospitals, Clinics

Neurosurgical anesthesiology,[1] neuroanesthesiology, or neurological anesthesiology[2] is a subspecialty of anesthesiology devoted to the total perioperative care of patients before, during, and after neurological surgeries, including surgeries of the central (CNS) and peripheral nervous systems (PNS). The field has undergone extensive development since the 1960s correlating with the ability to measure intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral blood flow (CBF), and cerebral metabolic rate (CMR).[3][page needed][4]


In 1961, a working group, the Commission on Neuroanesthesia, was created sponsored by the World Federation of Neurology.[4] The first textbook on neuroanesthesiology was published in 1964 by Andrew R. Hunter from Manchester, UK, which promoted the founding of the field.[5][4] In 1965, Hunter and Dr. Allan Brown of Edinborough founded the Neuroanesthesia Traveling Club of Great Britain and Ireland. The first American organization for neuroanesthesiology met on June 15, 1973, in Philadelphia, PA and was named the Neurosurgical Anesthesia Society (NAS). It consisted of 36 anesthesiologists, including Maurice Albin, and 4 neurosurgeons, including Thomas W. Langfitt. It was renamed the Society of Neurosurgical Anesthesia and Neurological Supportive Care (SNANSC) in October, 1973, and finally the Society of Neurosurgical Anesthesia and Critical Care (SNACC) in 1986.


Neurosurgical anesthesiologists specialize in the care of patients with diverse conditions including but not limited to aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, intracranial tumors, intractable epilepsy, head injuries, stereotactic procedures, neuroradiological procedures, pediatric neurosurgery and spine surgery.[citation needed]

Pediatric Deep Brain Stimulation surgery

In addition to standard anesthesthetic management of patients undergoing surgery, neurosurgical procedures require the anesthesiologist to have a strong knowledge base of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and understand advanced monitoring techniques including neuromonitoring of the brain and spinal cord. It is impossible to routinely "monitor" the effects of drugs on CBF (cerebral blood flow), CMR, or ICP (intra-cranial pressure) as there is no neuroanesthetic equivalent of the pulmonary artery catheter or the transesophageal echocardiograph that permits a wide range of cerebral physiologic and pharmacologic effects to be followed easily.[6][page needed]

Tumor resection surgery from posterior fossa


After satisfactory completion of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency program in anesthesiology formal advanced training in Neurosurgical Anesthesia is available as a 1 or 2 -year fellowship integrating research, teaching and clinical experience. Although fellowships differ slightly at various institutions, they generally involve the fellow in participating in 12–24 months of research (either clinical or basic sciences), participation in advanced cases in the neurosurgical O.R.s and interventional radiology suites, and develop experience in performance and interpretation of neuromonitoring. Neurosurgical anesthesia fellows may also rotate in neurosurgical intensive care unit and gain experience with transcranial doppler, basic EEG interpretation and Licox/Microdialysis interpretation. Some institutions also allow the fellow to participate in education and teaching efforts for neurosurgical departments in developing countries.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

In 2021, the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA) announced the development of a new international curriculum for standardized neuroanesthesiology fellowship training developed in partnership with SNACC and accredited by the International Council on Perioperative Neuroscience Training (ICPNT).[13][14]

Controversy surrounding fellowship accreditation

Despite its more than 60-year history, there are no ACGME-accredited or American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)-accredited neuroanesthesiology fellowships, as of 2021.[15] There has been widespread debate in medical societies and the peer-reviewed literature concerning the need for formal subspecialty training for anesthesiologists who staff neurosurgical cases.[16][17]

Notable Physicians


  1. ^ "UpToDate". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  2. ^ Freund, Felix G. (1965-08-02). "Neurological Anaesthesia". JAMA. 193 (5): 407. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090050083047. ISSN 0098-7484.
  3. ^ Longnecker DE, Brown DL, Newman MF, Zapol WM, eds. (2008). Anesthesiology. Mcgraw-Hill.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Albin, Maurice S. (October 1997). "CELEBRATING SILVER: The Genesis of a Neuroanesthesiology Society NAS → SNANSC → SNACC". Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology. 9 (4): 296–307. doi:10.1097/00008506-199710000-00002. ISSN 0898-4921.
  5. ^ "History of SNACC". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  6. ^ Todd MM, Warner DS, Maktabi MA, Vagnerova K (2008). "Neuroanesthesia". Anesthesiology. New York: Mcgraw-Hill. pp. 1081–1139.
  7. ^ "Neurosurgical Anesthesia". Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine (in Samoan). Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  8. ^ "Neurosurgical Anesthesiology Fellowship". Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  9. ^ Keith C. "Neurosurgical Anesthesiology Fellowship". Duke Anesthesiology. Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  10. ^ "Anaesthesia for neurosurgery, neuroradiology and neuro critical care | The Royal College of Anaesthetists". Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  11. ^ Mashour GA, Avitsian R, Lauer KK, Soriano SG, Sharma D, Koht A, Crosby G (January 2013). "Neuroanesthesiology fellowship training: curricular guidelines from the Society for Neuroscience in Anesthesiology and Critical Care". Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology. 25 (1): 1–7. doi:10.1097/ANA.0b013e3182785d5d. PMID 23171854. S2CID 28454552.
  12. ^ Rajan S, Bustillo M, Lee C, Kofke WA (2021-12-01). "Standardization of Neuroanesthesia Education: Need of the Hour and the Way Forward". Current Anesthesiology Reports. 11 (4): 467–476. doi:10.1007/s40140-021-00477-y. PMC 8546382. PMID 34720755.
  13. ^ "ICPNT Accredited Programs - ICPNT". 2022-03-02. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  14. ^ "New Accreditation Process for Neuroanesthesiology Fellowships". Association of University Anesthesiologists. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  15. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Anesthesiology Review Committee for Anesthesiology ACGME" (PDF). April 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  16. ^ Ma, Alfred C; Siddiqi, Javed; Ninan, David (2020). "Value of Neuroanesthesiology Fellowship Training". Cureus. 12 (10): e10943. doi:10.7759/cureus.10943. ISSN 2168-8184. PMC 7661010. PMID 33200057.
  17. ^ a b Ghaly, Ramsis F. (2014-05-23). "Do neurosurgeons need Neuroanesthesiologists? Should every neurosurgical case be done by a Neuroanesthesiologist?". Surgical Neurology International. 5: 76. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.133106. ISSN 2229-5097. PMC 4061581. PMID 24949219.