Now that it is possible, many people are opting to remain awake for surgical procedures that once required general anesthesia. The ability to understand what is happening and to even ask questions about the procedure in real time is intriguing and may even offer comfort to those who are nervous or unsure about being put under for any considerable duration. With this trend, however, comes a complexly new set of potential complications that surgeons are still adjusting to as they must remain aware of the fact that their patients can hear and see every minor thing that is said or done.
The Reasons for Watching Your Own Surgery
Aside from doing so just because someone can now, people have certain medical, personal or financial reasons they may wish to forgo traditional anesthesia. These reasons may include the following.
- Quicker recovery time— some surgical procedures can now be performed without the need to put the patient all the way under. When a minimal amount of sedation is required, the patient doesn’t need to remain under observation for nearly as long following the operation. Some people find that they can go about their days within minutes of the surgery’s end.
- Distrust for doctors— some people just want to be sure that everything is going as planned and have doubts due to the stories they have heard about surgical errors. They feel that if they can watch the procedure as it is happening, they will know that they are safe and that everything is going just as it should be.
- Genuine interest in the procedure or the human body— it can be fascinating to get a glimpse inside of one’s own body and some of the people who are electing to have their surgeries while awake get the opportunity to see what their insides look like in a way they can rarely experience.
- Fear of never waking up again— if patients never need to go under to begin with, they don’t need to worry about whether they will survive the procedure.
- Feedback is required— some surgical procedures are designed to be awake procedures because the patient needs to communicate with the surgeon throughout the operation to ensure its success.
The Complications that Arise During an Awake Procedure
While there are many benefits to awake surgeries, surgeons are beginning to find that there are downsides as well. For one, they often forget that the patient is awake and may say or do things that concern the patient merely because the patient does not understand how the surgeon would normally act throughout the operation. It is also common for surgeons to make mistakes or need to change course during a procedure. This can send a patient into a frenzy if he or she doesn’t understand what is happening.
Here are some of the complications that people have reported so far.
- The patient reacts negatively during the procedure— this can complicate the procedure if the patient attempts to move or gets scared of what is happening at the time. It is important that the staff has a way of comforting and controlling the patient when this happens.
- The staff doesn’t consider the awareness of the patient when making comments— some of the matter of fact comments surgeons make during operations could terrify someone who doesn’t understand what is going on.
- The patient could be looking for reasons to fault the surgeon— some people are very wary of doctors and may look for any reason to hold their physician at fault. They may believe that watching their own operation will help them detect surgical errors.
- The patient may not respond well to the educational aspect of surgery— surgeons learn through experience, and most patients are oblivious to the assistants who join the operation. They may be nervous if they see a trainee entering the fold.
It is still very possible that the need will arise to sedate a patient during an awake procedure. Patients may need to be put under if they become too anxious, they are involved in a procedure that lasts longer than expected, or they ask specifically to be put under. For these reasons, an anesthesiologist is always on hand and available to assist.
So long as doctors can remember that their patients can hear and see everything that is happening, awake surgeries can be very enlightening and fun for patients. Physicians must properly screen their patients to determine whether they would be good candidates for awake procedures and remember that what goes on during a typical day for them is something brand new for their patient.
The patient must also be able to communicate with the doctor so that he or she knows when it is simply too much and time for the patient to be put under general anesthesia. A successful awake procedure can have a profound impact on the patients health, however, in that the patient has a deeper understanding and appreciation for his or her condition and how it is being treated.