Some patients could be more likely to remain conscious during operations because of a genetic resistance to anesthesia, according to a New Zealand expert.
Jamie Sleigh of Auckland University has embarked on the world’s first study examining the genes of people who reported awareness during anesthesia, according to the Australian Associated Press.
Sleigh told the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists (ANZCA) conference in Perth on Sunday that about one in 1,000 patients recall conversations and sounds from the operating theater while under anesthetic.
"You do get some people who remember stuff during operations and apparently received pretty generous amounts of anesthetic," he said, AAP reported.
"Normally, anesthesia is an incredibly effective treatment. That's why you get the feeling there is something in the genetic way that person has been built."
The suspicion this resistance could be genetically based is supported by reports of a family history of awareness during anesthesia.
The study, a collaboration between the University of Auckland, Waikato Hospital, and Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, aims to recruit about 100 people who have reported awareness during anesthesia.
It would examine their DNA for genes believed to interact with the drugs.
Separately, a New Zealand psychiatrist told the conference that hypnosis could be more widely used for pain relief, including in major surgery, for people who had adverse reactions to anesthesia.
Auckland Regional Pain Service pain specialist Bob Large, cited by Australia's ABC, said that in some parts of the world, hypnosis had been used prior to major surgery.
He said some people could even have surgery under hypnosis.
"Some people are capable of very, very impressive anesthesia and analgesia with hypnosis," he said.
"There are case reports of people having major surgery under hypnosis going way back."
Large said that being hypnotized before an operation had advantages as opposed to using gas or a needle.
"I think in the first instance it helps them feel less apprehensive about the process," he said.
"And within the procedure itself it doesn't negate the possibility of using chemical anesthesia, but it reduces the dosages that are required and that's pretty useful as well.
"Women who use hypnosis for childbirth are able to be much more comfortable through the whole process, they have a good time, the baby comes out less sedated because you've not used as much morphine or other analgesia along the way."
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