The anesthesiologist and end-of-life care

Antonino Giarratano, Sebastiano Mercadante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of reviewAnesthesiologists may face problematic situations when patients are close to death, in which clinicalproblems, decision-making processes, and ethical issues are often interconnected and dependent on eachof them. The aim of this review is to assess the recent literature regarding the anesthesiological role foradvanced cancer patients.Recent findingsPalliative sedation in the dying patients, end-of-life problems in the ICU, and pain control in advancedcancer patients have been the subject of recent research. All these issues have shown that anesthesiologistwould be expert in the field of pain and symptom control at the end of life. End-of-life care problems arecommon in ICU, and a decision-making process requires knowledge and management of patients’ wishes,past and projected future quality of life, severity and prognosis of illness, patients’ age, regardingwithholding and withdrawing of futile treatments in anticipation of death, or relieving symptoms close todeath.SummaryAnesthesiologists should be competent in all aspects of terminal care, including the practical and ethicalaspects of withdrawing different modalities of life-sustaining treatment and the use of sedatives, analgesics,and nonpharmacologic approaches to easing the suffering of the dying process. More research is neededto provide models which should be spread in the scientific community to afford this difficult task.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-375
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Publication statusPublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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