Hypnosis reduces surgical pain and time, improves safety

Large randomized clinical trial shows benefits of self-hypnotic relaxation techniques

People who used self-hypnotic relaxation techniques during surgery needed less pain medication, left the operating room sooner, and had more stable vital signs during the operation, according to new research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The study is published in the April 29 issue of the weekly journal The Lancet.

"We have a simple method that decreases pain and anxiety and makes the invasive procedure safer and faster," says first author Elvira Lang, M.D., director of cardiovascular and interventional radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess. The large randomized clinical trial included 241 people who underwent interventional radiology procedures to open clogged arteries and veins, relieve blockages in the kidney drainage system, and block blood vessels feeding tumors. Patients undergoing these minimally invasive surgeries were assigned to one of three groups. One group experienced normal interactions with nurses and doctors. Another group received extra attention from an additional person in the operating room. The third group of patients received assistance during their surgery with relaxation techniques, including imagery. Within safety limits, all patients were able to receive as much medication as they needed at any time to control their pain. Standard protocol calls for conscious sedation, using drugs as needed for pain and anxiety.

The hypnosis group fared best by most measures, but the patients receiving extra attention also benefited. About half of the patients in the attention and self-hypnotic groups need no drugs for pain or anxiety; the other patients in the two groups used about half the amount of drugs as patients in the standard care group. During the operation, pain increased over time in both the standard care and extra attention groups, but remained flat in the self-hypnotic group. The benefits of hypnosis exceeded those of e

Contact: Carol Cruzan Morton
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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