Whilst browsing the Italian newspaper “The Corriere della Sera” on the 2nd August (I’m learning Italian as well as Clinical Hypnosis) an article caught my eye.
The article describes, how a 69 year old patient, a passionate cyclist, sustained a subdural haematoma after a fall from his bike. Following a left sided hemiparesis, Neurosurgeons in Legnano Italy decided to operate, and evacuate the haematoma.
This procedure is routine for Neurosurgeons.
What was unusual however, was that one of the two surgeons was trained in Clinical Hypnosis (Italian Centre for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis Turin. A member of the European Society of Hypnosis). He had asked the patient if the procedure could be performed with hypnosis and some local anaesthetic if necessary.
After three preparatory sessions, the patient was checked by using an Encephalogram (EEG) to ascertain, the depth of trance and assessed for suggestibility and suitability.
The operation went ahead. An anaesthetist was present throughout, in case the patient required pharmacological intervention. Local anaesthetic was only used when the scalp muscle was elevated from the bone (this is a normal part of the procedure) as the patient reported some discomfort.
Hypnosis was used during the procedure (which is often frightening and stressful) to ensure the patient was relaxed, and to decrease any pain, peri-operatively and post-operatively.
The translated article describes the patient being in a trance and revivicating his childhood and playing snowballs with his friends. This seems a similar adaptation perhaps to “glove anaesthesia”. Although the patient could hear the noises of instruments (he “poetically” describes this as “rumori dei ferri” (noise of irons) and a feeling of water (describing the evacuation of the haematoma by using sterile water) he wasn’t concerned or stressed, and didn’t suffer pain, which he attributed to the clinical hypnosis. The patient was conscious throughout the procedure.
This article illustrates the use for clinical hypnosis as a treatment as well as being an adjunct to established medical practices in the operating theatre.
Practitioners of clinical hypnosis would want to see that this subject is presented in a manner in which the benefits of hypnosis can be reliable and be verifiable.
Therefore this article should be read with caution. Although there was plenty of evidence (photos of both Neurosurgeons and the recovering patient) and references to the clinical Hypnosis used; no clinical research to substantiate this case was found. As with cases undertaken at home and abroad, research is invaluable to verify the efficacy of clinical hypnosis.
In addition to this, this procedure is often practiced under local anaesthetic and sedation (the practice can be extremely stressful to the patient).
Clinical Hypnosis could be used therefore, as an adjunct (as it is in this case) to the local anaesthetic but without sedation and the need for postoperative analgesia.
On a personal level, I found the article informative. I use hypnotic techniques to achieve relaxation and pain relief in the operating theatre. I was interested to see that the article illustrated that hypnosis could yet have another use clinically.