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  • Surgery patients report waking up during surgery but unable to let doctors know

    Surgery patients report waking up during surgery but unable to let doctors know

    By Clare Wilson October 6

    If you?re facing surgery, this may well be your worst nightmare: waking up while under the knife without medical staff realizing.

    The biggest-ever study of this phenomenon is shedding light on what such an experience feels like and is causing debate about how best to prevent it.

    For a one-year period starting in 2012, an anesthetist at every hospital in the United Kingdom and Ireland recorded every case where a patient told a staff member that he had been awake during surgery. Prompted by these reports, the researchers investigated 300 cases, interviewing the patient and doctors involved.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...ffd_story.html
    ^^(A)^^

  • #2
    I have unusual reactions and resistance to anesthesia, and this is my worst nightmare. I'm paranoid (I know it's not rational) that I might be at greater risk of this happening because of my history.
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

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    • #3
      Really scarey stuff I have had several surgery's on my body where I am awake but groggy (twilight) and I know my wife has bad reactions to morphine after surgery but doesn't wake up during.
      ^^(A)^^

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      • #4
        I've had a bunch of surgical procedures that they normally do under twilight, where I refused and did a very small amount of IV valium instead so I wasn't anxious, but still fully aware. I've had bad reactions to strong sedation so I'm scared of it. I also just am really uncomfortable with that being awake but not fully aware lol. Probably similar to my general anesthesia anxieties! My very first experience with any sedation and surgery was pretty bad so it probably started it all. I was only 13 and it was my first oral surgery. They decided to do nitrous oxide, and it made me feel awful and like I was dying instead of relaxed. Down the line I found out its not so unusual for it to have a paradoxical reaction. Anyway, I asked them to turn it off and had to argue with them before they would. And it was oral surgery, so of course not easy to argue and beg to have it turned off. Then a little later, they turned it back on! I guess they assumed I wouldn't notice. But of course I noticed it fealt like I was going to die again. The next one they decided on IV sedation, probably versed, and while it wasn't as bad it wasn't good either and I've never had it again. Everything has either been fully awake (with nerve blocks usually due to my issue with locals not working, or the IV valium and fentanyl) or general anesthesia.
        Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

        I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

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        • #5
          I was supposed to be knocked out while I was getting a stent installed in one of my heart arteries, when my right shoulder, as it tends to do, started to pain my terribly. So I asked them to do something for that pain, like put a pillow under my shoulder. They put one under my shoulder, under my direction, but when I woke no one was near by to ask about this event. And I always seem to forget to ask when I see the heart doctor. I did not think so many folks did wake up during surgeries, this thread is an eye opener. But I was talking and they responded to my request. Usually the knockout drugs they use put me into a deep sleep, and I know nothing this was the first tme I had such an experience.

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          • #6
            Had impacted wisdom theeth excised. Remembered nothing of it and loss of time was odd. Was sick after.

            Woke up and remembered sound and vibration during tendon lengthening. Was supposed to be a general. Very odd after. B & b not working and paroxymal hypertension. Still the tendon was giving be great deal of trouble before. Did all settle down after a week.

            Remembered colonoscopy, but was not supposed to. Quick recovery. Had to wait for bladder to start up again. Should ask anaesthetist what it was so can have it again later. Can't remember unpleasantness of polyp removal so pain was managed.

            With these two I was aware of time passing.

            Can't remember any of cystoscopy, but felt odd after. Was not a general.

            Orthopaedics generally needs a general?
            Last edited by zagam; 02-07-2015, 03:28 AM. Reason: first general worked
            http://zagam.net/

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            • #7
              A colonoscopy is done under sedation, the cystoscopy probably was as well. There are different medications used for this type of sedation, so you can have different experiences depending on which medication was used and at which dosages. Common ones are versed and propofol.

              With general, you have to be intubated. If you were able to speak for example, you couldn't have been under general anesthetic because you would have had a breathing tube in your throat. Many people misunderstand the difference between a heavy sedation and being put under general and think they were under general if they can't remember the event at all. Its not uncommon to not be able to remember anything from heavy sedation, and also not so uncommon to remember bits as the medication wears off and more is given. Everyone responds differently. I have bad reactions to sedation so generally am not heavily sedated, things are either done with no sedation, very light valium to relax but not sedate, or general. But with an endoscopy I didn't really have a choice, and the Dr was prepared for the bad reactions I have and we went with sedation. I remember quite a bit from during the procedure, and I remember everything immediately after the procedure clear as day where my Dr said most people don't remember being taken to post op and having the conversation with him etc. When seeing him in clinic to discuss the results, I commented on how I metabolize these types of drugs very quickly and he commented oh do I ever, he had to give me a ton and keep giving it to me. Some people need very little and can be affected for the entire day. After mine, my friend took me to lunch since I hadn't been able to eat before, then we went grocery shopping, and when I got home I continued on with my day as if I hadn't had an endoscopy.
              Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

              I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

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              • #8
                I woke up during skin graft surgery when I was 21yrs old. They were in the middle of harvesting that delicate skin from my hip, but because I was on my side, I couldn't see anything. I went right back out after they noticed.
                Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

                T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

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                • #9
                  My sister had that happened to her and she was just lucky one of the nurses looked at her eyes and saw a tear or two. She realized that she was paralyzed from the anesthesia but wasnt put under. So she only felt the pain for awhile it could of been worse. Also my mother was having eye surgery and the pain was so bad she found a safe spot in her head to try to escape the excruciating pain. She can still remember that day vividly unfortunately. So if that was twice in my family in the last 10 years i could imagine how often it happens, pretty scary.

                  Mooner

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                  • #10
                    Frankly, with paralysis, their are very few surgeries (short of my brain) that I'd need more than a local for. One of the plus's ...urethrotomy with no anatsteic

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                    • #11
                      If you're going into surgery you generally get both an anesthetic (to make you unconscious) as well as a paralytic (which does nothing to decrease your sensation, awareness or pain). The paralytic just blocks transmission of the neurons to the muscles, it allows them to intubate you and use more pain and anesthetic medications without worrying about losing your airway or stopping breathing.

                      This study mentions a lot of people waking up "before or after surgeries", which to me just suggests the anesthetic wore off before the paralytic. Certainly traumatic and unpleasant, but in most cases it ought to be pretty brief.

                      There have been cases where the IV line administering the anesthetic becomes dislodged or (worst case) was never connected in the first place. If a line is kinked the anesthesiologist's machines will alert him to that fact. If it's just spitting out vecuronium onto the bed, no one notices because the patient is covered in piles of opaque sterile drapes to keep the field clean. So in very rare cases the patient might be completely conscious for the entire event, able to feel everything, but unable to move...

                      That probably doesn't happen 300 times per year, but it certainly does happen, and would be much, much worse than the brief sensation of not being able to move when anesthesia gets too light for a few minutes.

                      I heard second or third hand about a case where the anesthetist forgot to hook up the anesthetic agent. The patient was able to repeat in great detail the conversation the surgeons were having while they were in the middle of the operation...

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