The Royal College of Anesthetists in the United Kingdom has promoted the use of audio recordings to induce a state of relaxation in patients prior to surgery. These recordings, which employ self-hypnosis techniques, aim to reduce anxiety and improve surgical outcomes. Dr. Samantha Black, a pediatrician and anesthesiologist, points out that these recordings provide patients with a reliable resource instead of searching for information on the Internet. Some European countries and the United States have taken this technique a step further, using it not only before but also during the operation.
Research and clinical trials have shown that hypnosis can reduce the dose of anesthetics needed during surgery, as well as the recovery time and the need for painkillers. Brain imaging studies have revealed that hypnosis produces specific effects on the brain. Activity in the dorsal area of the anterior cingulate cortex is reduced, which decreases attention to the environment. In addition, connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula is increased, which helps the brain control bodily sensations. Connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the default neural network are also reduced, allowing the person to follow instructions during hypnosis without requiring additional mental resources.
Hypnosis is used as an adjunct in less complex and shorter surgeries, along with local anesthesia. For example, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, hypnosis has been implemented for patients undergoing breast lumpectomies. These patients receive prior hypnosis sessions, and during the operation, their comfort levels are constantly monitored, adjusting medication or local anesthesia as needed. Although considered a safe environment, there is the option to switch to general anesthesia if necessary.
In summary, hypnosis is used as a complementary tool in simpler and shorter surgeries to reduce patient anxiety and improve outcomes. The technique has demonstrated specific effects on the brain and is considered safe when properly implemented in controlled settings.
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