Reducing Hospital Stays Through Hypnosis

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – A combination of hypnosis and local anesthesia (LA) for certain surgeries can help the healing process, reduce drug use and time spent in the hospital, according to this study. The combination may also help avoid cancer recurrence and metastases. Professor Fabienne Roelants and Dr. Christine Watremez, from the Department of Anesthesiology at the Cliniques Universitaires St. Luc, UCL, Brussles, Belgium, studied the impact of using LA and hypnosis in some breast cancer surgeries and in thyroidectomy (removal of all or some of the thyroid gland).

“In all of these procedures local anesthesia is feasible but not, on its own, sufficient to ensure patient comfort,” Professor Roelants was quoted as saying.

In the first study, 18 of 78 women had hypnosis for a variety of breast cancer procedures and the rest had general anesthesia (GA). Although the patients who were hypnotized spent a few more minutes in the operating theatre, opiod drug use in the first group was greatly diminished, as was time in the recovery room and hospital stay.

In the thyroid study, researchers compared the outcomes of 18 patients who were hypnotized and had LA and 36 who had GA. The group that had hypnosis and LA had reduced drug use, recovery room and hospital stay time.

“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,” Professor Roelants explained.

“Together with the other anesthesiologists at the hospital, we are specialized in hypnosis,” Dr. watremez was quoted as saying. “Although 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 unconscious 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.”

The principle of hypnosis is to focus attention on one point; it could be eye fixation, progressive muscle relaxation, or the retrieval of a pleasant memory. A number of studies using PET scans and MRIs have shown that hypnosis works in reducing the perception of pain.

Researchers believe that hypnosis prevents information from reaching the higher cortical regions that are responsible for the perception of pain, or that it permits a better response to pain by activating pain-inhibiting paths more effectively.

“There is still a lot of debate around the exact mechanism that allows hypnosis to reduce pain perception,” Professor Roelants said, “but what is absolutely clear is that it does so.”

SOURCE: The European Anaesthesiology Congress held in Amsterdam from June 11-14, 2011