Hypnosis Can Help in Thyroid Surgery

By Mary Shomon, About.com Guide  June 22, 2011

According to new studies recently reported on at conference in Europe by two Belgian anesthesiologists, Fabienne Roelants, MD, and Christine Watremez, MD, the combination of hypnosis and local anesthesia can aid in healing and reduce the amount of drugs used, as well as recuperation time in the hospital, in both breast and thyroid surgeries.

The doctors reported their experience using a combination of medical hypnosis and local anesthesia in certain breast surgeries and video-assisted surgeries to remove the thyroid gland.

Some key highlights:

  • The hypnosis was induced in the operating room, and was induced with a respected physician-developed hypnotic technique involving eye fixation and progressive muscle relaxation that is known as the Erickson approach.
  • The surgeon administered local anesthesia, and in the other groups, general anesthesia.
  • The physicians found that use of drugs and pain medications was lower, and length of hospital stay shorter, in the group who had the hypnosis/local anesthesia versus the group who had general anesthesia.
  • The hypnosis patients had less nausea
  • Generally, patient satisfaction scores were higher in the group who received hypnosis

In a statement about their findings, Dr. Roelants said: "local anesthesia is feasible but not, on its own, sufficient to ensure patient comfort.In an interview with Medscape News, Dr. Roelants and Dr. Watremez said: "This is not the first study using hypnosis in thyroidectomy patients, but it is the first study using hypnosis for video-assisted thyroidectomy. It takes special training in hypnotic techniques, especially the techniques that reduce anxiety and pain. In our hospital, almost half of our staff will be trained in hypnosis at the end of this year." Their breast surgery research also found lowered levels of drugs needed during and after surgery, reduced time in the recovery room, reduced time in the hospital, and less wound drainage in the group receiving hypnosis and local anesthesia.


Source: Euroanaesthesia 2011: the European Anaesthesiology Congress. Abstracts 8AP5-4 and 8AP5-8. Presented June 12, 2011.