Could Hypnosis Help in Brain Surgery?


A new study finds that the use of hypnosis could help relax some patients who are required to be awake during brain surgery.

During a type of operation known as “awake” brain surgery, the patient is initially anesthetized but then awakened during the operation in order to be able to communicate with the surgeon. This enables the surgeon to safely remove the tumor without damaging the “eloquent cortex,” which are critical areas of the brain involved in language and movement.

This French study looked at the use of hypnosis in 37 patients undergoing “awake” surgery for the removal of low-grade gliomas, which is a type of tumor arising from the brain and spinal cord.


(Copyright DPC)

By Charlotte Libov   |   Tuesday, 29 Dec 2015 11:07 AM

The anesthesiologist/hypnotist met with the patients a few weeks prior to the surgery to prepare them for the technique, which is known as “hypnosedation.” Then, once in the operating room, the patients were placed in a hypnotic trance, which was progressively enhanced with specific instructions given to the patient as the operation proceeded.

According to the researchers, the hypnosedation seemed to reduce the impact of unpleasant events during surgery, and pain seemed to decrease as the level of hypnosis deepened. Only two patients said that, if they had to undergo a second similar surgery, they would not opt for the technique again.

The study does not necessarily prove that using hypnosis is superior to the standard type of anesthesia, though. Although using hypnosis does eliminate the need to awaken the patient during the surgery, the technique does require considerable investment and time comment on the part of the whole team, including the patient, the researchers note in the study, which appears in Neurology.

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