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Hypnosis Plus Local Anesthesia Might Work Well for Some Surgeries
Date:6/14/2011

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Watremez and Roelants are both from the department of anesthesiology at the Cliniques Universitaires St. Luc (UCL) in Brussels. They and their UCL colleagues presented the findings last weekend at a meeting of the European Anaesthesiology Congress, in Amsterdam. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

The authors stated that the potential overall effectiveness of hypnosis is not affected by either gender or age. Rather, patient motivation, trust and willingness to undergo the hypnotic process is key to its success.

In the breast cancer study, 18 women (out of 78 patients) underwent hypnosis and local anesthetic for a range of surgeries (partial mastectomy, sentinel node biopsy, or opening the armpit to remove lymph nodes); the other 58 underwent general anesthesia for the same operations. The thyroid study also involved 18 hypnosis/local anesthetic patients who underwent all or part of the thyroid gland, comparing them with 36 patients who underwent general anesthesia for the same surgery.

In both cases, the combo patients fared better in terms of recovery time, hospital stay and opiate drug use.

"In addition to reducing drug use and hospital stay time, being able to avoid general anesthesia in breast cancer surgery is important because we know that local anesthesia can block the body's stress response to surgery and could therefore reduce the possible spread of metastases," explained Roelants.

Watremex added that "there are special precautions to be taken -- for example, only the hypnotherapist should talk to the patient during the procedure and should avoid negatives, which unconsciousness cannot handle. And the surgeon needs to be gentle, avoid any tugging in his movements, and be able to remain cool in all circumstances -- it is a straightforward procedure and appreciated by the patients."

Currently a third of all thyroid and breast
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