Pain-free alternative to anaesthetics?
“I’m glad I did it – it felt ace!”
That’s how a registered hypnotherapist described an operation on his thumb – without any anaesthetic.
Surgeons cut, sawed and chiselled a bone out of the hand of Alex Lenkei.
But the 61-year-old didn’t feel a thing after putting himself into a trance ahead of the 80-minute operation at Worthing and Southlands Hospital is West Sussex.
“It took about 30 seconds to a minute for me to put myself under,” he said.
“I was aware of what was going on around me, I could hear the surgeon talking but I couldn’t feel any pain.
“I remember at one point the surgeon asked for a saw, and I had images of this big thing like you get at B&Q – then he said, ‘No not that one, the little one’, and I thought oh, that’s all right then.”
Mr Lenkei needed surgery to remove a bone about the size of a walnut from the base of his thumb.
The surgeon, David Llewellyn-Clark, smashed the bone with a special chisel, then sawed the bone ends and cleared the debris with snippers.
Throughout the operation consultant anaesthetist Dr Richard Venn was on hand to give pain relief – if it was needed.
Both doctors said the process by which a body can shut out pain by hypnosis is not well understood.
“Presumably what happened is that his own body released a lot of pain killing chemicals that prevented him feeling pain during the operation,” said Dr Venn.
“What was interesting was that I was monitoring his heart, blood pressure and breathing rate all the time and they stayed exactly the same throughout – so he certainly wasn’t experiencing any pain.”
Dr Llewellyn-Clark believes there could be a place for hypnosis in NHS treatment.
It was the first time he had operated on anyone under hypnosis.
He added: “I think this is possibly the extreme case of what can be done with hypnosis; but some people are very anxious about being given an anaesthetic so I’m always looking to find alternatives.”
Contact Linda Alexander, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Glasgow on 0141 632 1440 / 07875 493 358