To the Editor:--I was privileged to have heard in person the 33rd Rovenstine Lecture delivered by Lawrence Saidman, M.D., at the 1994 meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and was grateful to see its text published in ANESTHESIOLOGY. A major portion of the lecture was devoted to a discussion of whether the name "anesthesiology" best serves the physicians who practice our medical specialty. As the breadth of our discipline has grown to encompass patient assessment and care beyond the intraoperative period and we have come to issue certificates of special expertise in critical care medicine and pain management, it makes sense to many of us to consider a name for the parent specialty that is broader, more descriptive, and more accurate than "anesthesiology." In this vein, the suggestion of "metesthesiology" was forwarded to properly emphasize our role in altering (going "above and beyond") rather than eliminating the body's perception of noxious stimuli. I was impressed by Saidman's arguments for a term not previously suggested: "perioperative medicine and pain management." This name emphasizes:(1) our specialty as a practice of medicine, (2) our role in guiding the patient safely through the totality of an invasive or painful procedure, and (3) our dramatic advances in the comprehensive treatment of pain from any cause.
Listening to Saidman's lecture and later reading the text, I was struck by the thought that there could not be a better way to initiate and lead such a change than by renaming our Journal. Obviously, such a change cannot be considered lightly and would require discussion and consensus among the Editorial Board of the Journal and the membership of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. If the name "perioperative medicine and pain management" is considered to better reflect the scope of our practice, does it not also better reflect the breadth of clinical and laboratory investigations that interest the readers of our Journal? An important part of the purpose of the American Society of Anesthesiologists as written in the Society's Bylaws is "to develop and further the specialty of anesthesiology." ANESTHESIOLOGY is the Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Discussion about whether the name of our specialty should change and hence Saidman's specific suggestion of "perioperative medicine and pain management" have arisen because of the growth and development of our specialty. I like the name, as do many with whom I speak. Is it time for a change?
Thomas M. McLoughlin, Jr., M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 20307
(Accepted for publication August 11, 1995.)