Patients choose to ditch anesthesia and stay awake during surgery

Patients are choosing to ditch the heavy anesthesia and stay wide awake during surgeries.

There are many reasons to why patients are deciding to stay awake and some include financial and medical reasons, but also because they want to somehow become a part in their own medical treatment.

“…There’s a curiosity and desire to have control over your experience,” said Dr. Alexander Langerman who is a head and neck surgeon on the faculty of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Studies show that surgical patients actually feel less nervous and anxious while staying awake during their surgery even though they could possibly have a clear view of rather grotesque sights.

However, not all doctors are completely comfortable with the idea of their patient being awake for an entire surgery.

“They often have a fear of litigation, or a fear of disappointing the patient,” said Dr. Langerman.

To make sure the patient remains calm throughout the surgery, anesthesiologists come in to help manage. Patients might become “bored” or “tired” after remaining in the same position for a few hours so creating “small talk” is essential.

A few hospitals post up signs to notify other doctors and surgeons that the patient in surgery is awake.

Dr. Ilyas, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and a hand surgeon, has been offering his patients the option to stay awake during surgery for about four years. Around 80 percent of the patients choose to not take the anesthesia.

“You get more ownership and appreciation of the treatment from patients,” Ilyas said.

See the full story on NYTIMES.COM.

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