Hypnosis in surgery

Published: Friday 15 September 2000

Patients who were hypnotised while undergoing surgery without a general anesthetic needed less pain medication, left the operating room sooner and had more stable vital signs than those who were not. Elvira Lang of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, USA, studied 241 people of similar health and age who had operations to open clogged vessels, relieve blocked kidney drainage systems or block blood vessels feeding tumors. The three groups of patients could take as much pain medication as they wanted through an intravenous tube. The hypnosis group - whose members were guided through visualisations of scenarios they found pleasant -- fared best with half of them needing no drugs at all. They were the only ones who said the pain did not worsen as the surgery progressed, had fewer problems with blood pressure and heart rate during surgery ( Lancet Vol 355 No 9114 May 1, 2000).

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