TUESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Certain surgeries that typically require the use of general anesthesia could be safely performed with localized anesthesia in combination with hypnosis, Belgian researchers suggest.
The finding stems from a pair of very small case-control studies that explored the combo's potential during surgical procedures performed for breast cancer patients and thyroid patients, respectively.
The studies revealed that, relative to general anesthesia, the local anesthesia/hypnosis approach sped up the healing process, reduced the need for post-surgery opioid drugs and reduced hospitalization time.
"There is still a lot of debate around the exact mechanism that allows hypnosis to reduce pain perception," said study author and professor Fabienne Roelants in a European Anaesthesiology Congress news release, "but what is absolutely clear is that it does so."
She and her colleague noted that other researchers have used brain imaging scans such as functional MRIs during hypnosis to document a reduction in the perception of pain.
"Imagine you are driving your car," co-author Dr. Christine Watremez said in the same news release. "You suddenly realize how far you have driven, but for a long time your mind has been elsewhere. This is extremely common, and is nothing more, nor less, than a mild hypnotic trance, a modified state of consciousness, with a different perception of the world. The principle of hypnosis is to focus one's attention on one particular point."
"We believe that our studies have shown considerable benefits for the [local anesthetic]/hypnosis combination," Watremez added, "and that such benefits are not only for patients, but also for health-care systems. By using hypnosis combined with [local anesthetic] we can reduce the costs involved in longer hospital stays, remove the need for patients to use opioid drugs, and increase their overall comfort and satisfaction levels."<
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