Hypnosis a Legitimate Sedation Technique for Brain Cancer “Awake Surgery”?
According to a study published in Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, hypnosis may be a legitimate sedation technique for “awake surgeries” that are required for specific types of brain cancers.
The study was conducted between 2011 and 2015 on 37 patients undergoing awake craniotomies. According to the study, in these procedures, the patient is sedated but conscious so as to be able to communicate during the operation. This helps the surgeon navigate safely to the tumor without damaging the “eloquent cortex”–critical areas of the brain involved in language or movement.
Preparation begins weeks before the surgery as the hypnotist/anesthesiologist helps prepare the patient by helping them create a “safe place” in their mind to go to during the procedure.
The 37 patients underwent 42 procedures (some needed repeat surgeries). Two decided against hypnosis while Hypnosis failed in six patients, who underwent standard “asleep-awake-asleep” anesthesia.
When successful, hypnosis was a reliable and reproducible method for awake surgery, with questionnaire assessments showing little or no negative psychological impact. Rather than any measure of individual “hypnotizability,” the success of hypnosis seemed to be most strongly related to the patients’ motivation and determination.
For patients, the most unpleasant parts of surgery were steps involving noise and vibration. Pain seemed to decrease as the level of hypnosis deepened. Only two patients said they would not choose to undergo hypnosedation if they had to undergo a second awake craniotomy.
For more information, read the full study.