Could hypnotism replace anaesthetics in surgery?

By | July 17, 2008

Could hypnotism replace anaesthetics in surgeryI’d like this to be true… have any of you had dental work done with a drill where you only used hypnosis?

… he forced himself to believe that his knee was only bruised. He refused to believe in pain. It was a myth, he kept telling himself.  And inch-by-inch the agony receded before, finally, becoming isolated and distant. The hypnosis had worked.  … Teeth removed without an anaesthetic? The mere idea makes any sane person squirm. And yet dentists, and even surgeons, are increasingly turning to hypnosis to replace a general anaesthetic. They claim that hypnosis has no negative side effects, is cheaper, and the patient recovers faster too.

Dr Mike Gow, a dentist based in Glasgow routinely uses hypnosis to carry out oral surgery. Amanda Maxwell, one of his patients, recently had a tooth removed and replaced with a crown using hypnosis. Four titanium screws were driven into her jawbone as part of the operation. As you can imagine, such an operation would normally be excruciatingly painful and would certainly need a general anaesthetic, but she described the process as entirely painless.

“I’m quite a wimp when it comes to pain,” says Amanda. “But during the operation my mind was elsewhere so it didn’t hurt at all.  As far as I was concerned, I was walking along a beautiful beach looking at the sea. I could hear the machine drilling into my jaw but it didn’t bother me at all.”

Dr Gow uses a standard ‘light trance’ form of hypnosis, which is about as far as it’s possible to get from the drama of a stage hypnotist. Dr Gow asks his patients to breath slowly and deeply before imagining themselves in a beautiful, peaceful place. This could be their favourite childhood bedroom or a sandy beach on a summer’s day. They are then asked to imagine pain as a dial running from one to ten. They control the level of pain by simply turning down the dial.

“Dr Gow told me that if the pain rose above six or eight then I should ask for an anaesthetic,” says Amanda. “It never rose above two or three during the entire operation. It didn’t hurt at all.”

Doctors are also carrying out major operations using hypnosis. One team in Belgium has operated on over 6,000 patients using hypnosis combined with a light local anaesthetic. The local anaesthetic is used only to deaden the surface of the skin whilst a scalpel slices through it. It has no effect inside the body.

“The patient is conscious throughout the whole operation,” says Professor Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, head of the Pain Clinic at Liege University Hospital in Belgium. “This helps the doctor and patient work together. The patient may have to move during an operation and it’s very simple to get them to do that if they remain conscious.

“We’ve performed over 1,000 thorax operations and many breast augmentation procedures. We’ve done a hysterectomy too. All were done without a general anaesthetic.”

“I don’t think it would work for organ transplants though.” … – newsmonster

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