Amanda Stewart , Design & Trend
Nov, 28, 2014, 05:01 PM
We’ve all heard about people waking up while they are undergoing surgery, but new research has shown people who experience this terrifying event may have long-term psychological effects.
Carol Weihrer, a resident of Virginia, woke up during a surgery she had in 1998.
“I could hear the surgeon telling his trainee to ‘cut deeper into the eye,'” said Weihrer. “I was screaming, but no one could hear me. I felt no pain, just a tugging sensation. I tried to move my toes or even push myself off the operating table, but I couldn’t move. I thought I was dying.”
Since her surgery Weihrer has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, CNN reported. “I’ve had to sleep in a recliner for the last 16 years,” she said. “If I lie flat, I get flashbacks of the operating table and I start violently thrashing.”
Professor Jaideep Pandit, lead author of the study, said the feeling of paralysis was the most distressing event during surgery patients more so than pain.
“Paralysis is terrifying and has never been experienced by most people,” Pandit said.
Patients who reported waking up were not able to move, so researchers believed a part of the anesthesia cocktail may be to blame. The study also found most patients who woke up during surgery were given anesthetics that involved paralytics.
General anesthesia is a mixture of drugs. Sometimes a paralytic is added to allow surgeons to operate in areas that are not usually accessible, The Westside Story reported. Researchers found patients are more likely to awaken under this type of anesthesia, which can cause the PTSD symptoms like Weihrer described.
According to the new study, researchers found about one in every 19,600 patients wake up during surgery. Researchers also found patients undergoing surgeries that require light anesthesia are more likely to wake up during the procedure. The odds raise to one in 670, the study reported.
However, waking up while under anesthesia is rare and often times the episodes are very short. About 75 percent of them lasted five minutes or less.
Though the experiences are usually short, many patients suffer long-term effects.
Researchers hope the findings of the new study will alert doctors to the dangers of anesthesia. They also hope more doctors will be open to listening to patients’ experiences about waking up during surgery and the PTSD it causes in their lives.
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