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Hypnosis May Aid Surgery Patients

May 01, 2000|From Associated Press

LONDON — People who were hypnotized 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, according to a study in last week's issue of the medical journal Lancet.

The study, led by Dr. Elvira Lang of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, involved 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 patients were divided into three groups--one that experienced normal interactions with doctors and nurses, another that received extra attention from an additional person in the operating room who made sure nobody said anything negative and a third who were helped to hypnotize themselves.

All the patients were able to give themselves as much pain medication as they wanted through an intravenous tube.

The hypnosis group--whose members were guided through visualizations of scenarios they found pleasant--fared best, but the patients receiving extra attention also benefited.

About half the patients in those two groups needed no drugs at all, while the rest gave themselves only half the amount of medication as those undergoing the operation with no special attention.

The hypnotized patients were the only ones who said the pain did not worsen as the surgery progressed. They also had fewer problems with blood pressure and heart rate during the operation.

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