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Awake Surgery - What are the benefits?

Awake Surgery - What are the benefits?

Many people dread the thought of being under general anaesthetic and with most major surgery there is often no choice.  However with some shoulder, elbow and wrist operations, there is now another option - “awake” surgery.  At London Bridge Hospital Professor Tony Kochhar has performed rotator cuff surgery on a patient, Helen Hogan (48), whilst she was ‘awake’ using this innovative technique.

“I didn’t realise until I had the consultation with Professor Kochhar that I had the option of staying awake throughout my surgery”, she says. When her consultant explained that there was an alternative to general anaesthetic and discussed the options with her, she felt a lot more comfortable. 

On the day of surgery itself, the procedure was, she says, “easy - in a way I kind of enjoyed it as it was interesting to watch. The only bit that was kind of uncomfortable was the (anaesthetic) block going in but I didn’t feel a thing in the surgery itself”

Afterwards Helen said she would, “definitely do it again. The whole process was really easy and I have hardly taken any pain relief after my operation”. 

What are the benefits?

Using this method there is a reduced risk of complications with pre-existing condition and issues like brain hypoxia. There also tends to be less pain and sickness after the operation.

Are there any side effects?

Both local and general anaesthetics can have some negative side effects. Local has been known to cause drowsiness, slurred speech and in rare circumstances seizures.

The risks associated with general anaesthesia range from mild including nausea, dizziness and blurred vision to the more severe like a cardiac arrest and respiratory problems. 

Despite the risk factors general anaesthetic is normally very safe and only rarely is there any complications; however medical professionals are still exploring alternative methods to eliminate the need for it in some specific areas of medicine.

Can I have “awake” surgery for any surgical procedure?

“Awake” surgery is one option to reduce the need for general anaesthetic as it  involves the same principle as local, using a nerve block which prevents the patient feeling any pain in that area of the body.

Orthopaedic surgery of the upper limb is an area of surgery where this technique can be used easily.

If you are interested in awake shoulder surgery please call our Appointments team for more information or speak with your GP to find out if you are suitable for the treatment.

Professor Tony Kochhar - 020 7234 2688 – admin@shoulderdoctor.co.uk

Published: February 06, 2017

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