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Teaching and research – anesthesia

We consider teaching and research to be integral components of our work. Our teaching activities include the vocational training, specialty training, and continuing medical education of students, specialty trainees, anesthetists, and nursing staff.

Our research activities are trying to answer unresolved questions, with the goal of offering our patients more precise and safe treatment before, during, and after an operation. Our research is not only a service to patients but also an important instrument for quality assurance.


Vocational training

We teach the practical side of anesthetics to medical students at the University of Zurich. The teaching staff in our department hold practical and near-patient courses in the operating theatre once a week during the winter semester. During elective periods (5th/6th years of study) medical students from any medical school in Switzerland can apply to do a rotation with at least one month’s anesthetics attachment in this hospital (student assistantships). They gain insight into the day-to-day life of an anesthetist and learn simple manual procedures and anesthetic techniques under supervision. If there are any free training places, students from abroad are also welcome at our hospital, once they have obtained the necessary permission.

Specialty training

Future anesthetists (specialty trainees) who have qualified from the University of Zurich have the opportunity to do a six-month rotation at our hospital. Here they learn central and ultrasound-guided peripheral regional anesthetic techniques for orthopaedic procedures. They also learn specific aspects of preoperative anesthetic assessment and perioperative care of patients with orthopaedic conditions and neurological diseases.

In the acute pain services, specialty trainees learn how to look after patients with continuous nerve blocks and the use of various opioids.

Prospective anesthetists from other countries can do a three-month rotation at our hospital, with an educational grant from the European Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Therapy (ESRA). Our hospital is one of two Swiss centres – from a total of 12 centres throughout Europe – that is recognised by ESRA as a specialty training centre for regional anesthesia.

Continuing professional development

Each week, we hold in-house CPD sessions for our specialists, specialty trainees, student assistants, and anesthetic nursing staff. Likewise, there is regular specialty training together with our surgical colleagues during morning report. Our department regularly organises symposia at Balgrist University Hospital.

Our specialists are also much sought-after course leaders, tutors, instructors, and speakers at national and international symposia and congresses.


Clinical research

Clinical research addresses relevant questions that can be studied directly in patients. In this way, new findings can be compared with previous standards to improve patient care and the outcome of treatment.

At Balgrist University Hospital, we are currently involved in clinical studies in the following areas

Ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia

  • Developing new techniques to prevent clinically relevant adverse effects of peripheral regional anesthesia
  • Investigating different catheter placement techniques with respect to secondary dislocation and the efficiency of pain therapy

Effects of regional anesthetic procedures on the perioperative outcome

  • Testing neurocognitive function in patients after shoulder surgery in a sitting position using different anesthetic techniques
  • Regional anesthetic procedures in high-risk patients
  • Hip surgery and postoperative delirium
  • Effects of regional anesthetic procedures on healthcare economics

Experimental research

Experimental research is carried out on tissues, animal models, and healthy volunteers to look at the basic mechanisms that can best be translated into clinical models. We are currently investigating the following areas

  • Effects of local anesthetics on inflammation/spread of tumour cells
  • Toxicity of local anesthetics and analgesics to human tissues
  • Effects of different anesthetics/local anesthetics on vascular endothelium (ischaemia-reperfusion)
  • Impact of the local anesthetic dose (volume/concentration) on its effects on the nerves