Open Heart Surgery WITHOUT Anesthesia: Possible?

My mother works with a woman who claims to be able to control pain with her mind. She’s trained herself so well that she claims not to need any anesthesia during surgery.

Now, the human mind is capable of wonderful things, and I’d find claims of, say, oral surgery (or some other outpatient-type surgery) w/o anesthesia to be at least plausible. However, this woman claims to have undergone open heart surgery while completely awake, with no anesthesia.

My brother is convinced this is total BS. I’m…well, let’s just say I lean toward asking about it in GQ.

So. Open heart surgery WITHOUT anesthesia: Possible? Or BS?

If this had actually been done, it would be well known. I say bullshit.

Maybe what she considers “open heart surgery” is not what you and I (and the rest of the medical world) would call it.

In “real” open heart surgery, at least the way it’s currently practised, the sternum (breast bone) is sawed open down the midline and then pulled apart. And that’s just for starters. As you might expect, then, I have my doubts about her claim :wink:

Even if one could control their own response to pain, it would be unethical and impractical for a team to do open chest surgery, much less open heart.
Patients having open heart surgery are chemically paralyzed to prevent even the slightest movement and cooled to levels that would make concentration dificult, while the heart is stopped.

Your mom’s co-worker is, at best, confused.

No doctor would operate on her without anesthesia. I say bullshit. Her version of “open heart surgery” is likely one performed by a “doctor” holding a snake and chanting something incomprehensible.

I think I actually saw open heart surgery done without anesthesia in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Can’t swear it was painless.

If I were your mom I’d be awfully tempted to test this woman’s mind control over pain by administering a surreptitious hotfoot, which of course would be wrong, if likely entertaining.

It’s quite real. Search on PubMed for “analgesic hypnosis” and similar phrases for a bunch of studies on it. Here’s an example for the lazy:

Not everybody can do it, but it works for some people.

That has nothing to do with surgery, and I couldn’t find anything that linked analgesic hypnosis with major surgery beyond a promising link called “Usefulness of hypnosis in heart surgery” that failed to open.

If open-heart surgery had ever been performed without anaesthesia, it wouldn’t be some obscure little thing, tales of which a co-worker of zut’s mother would regale her audience with. It would be an absolute sensation, published in medical journals and plastered all over mainstream newspapers.

Maybe she was referring to some sort of heart catheterization? My mother just had this done. The doctor did not put her to sleep, instead I think they gave her some sort of gas to breathe. She was pretty out of it.

I believe it could be possible to do this with minor things, like dental procedures. My friend’s father wanted to save the 60 dollars and got some dental work done without anything.

Here is a Discovery Channel documentary on hypnosis which includes a segment in which a woman undergoes surgery only with anesthesia. I’ll grant you that this is a far cry from open-heart surgery, but the basis is the same - she’s still ignoring people cutting into her with scalpels. Theoretically, someone good enough at self-hypnotism could go through open-heart surgery.

Possible? Sure.
Survivable? Maybe not.

Every day emergency rooms around the globe crack open somebody’s chest who…due to massive trauma or ilness…are already deeply unconcious or clinically dead, and are not anethetized beforehand.

Indeed, in those cases, anesthesia would probably kill the patient.

Maybe I wasn’t clear. Open heart surgery requires cooling. That means cooling to the point of hypothermia, just like when someone on Deadliest Catch falls in the water, the person couldn’t maintain the concentration required to sustain a state of self hypnosis. In fact, it’s low enough to cause unconsciousness. (but not pain relief)

The patient is also totally paralyzed. All bodily function is over ridden by the medical team. The breathing is totally controlled, the heart is stopped, blood is circulated via a mechanical pump and sterile ice is dumped into the chest cavity.

Dental surgery may be possible, (I’m having all the drugs they’ll give me, thankyouverymuch!) but, someone stronger than me is welcome to it.

My mother has a vivid memory (you think?) of various dental procedures done without any anesthesia in Soviet Union in the 1950’s. She had a root canal done on a molar when she was 12 without any anesthesia, pain relievers or hypnosis. That was apparently standard practice back then. I personally had a bad (but firmly planted) baby tooth extracted in Russia with no anesthetic when I was a kid – and the sentiment I got from the dentist is that anesthesia takes several years off your life every time :confused: This is common – I’ve met Russian kids who had tonsillectomies without anesthetics because the procedure is so quick that anesthetic was considered to do more harm than good. Nowadays it’s done under local (or under general if you go to a private surgeon rather than entrusting yourself to socialized medicine)

“A far cry” doesn’t cover it.

Did you read picunurse’s post? Do you realize what open-heart surgery entails?

I’m sure I saw a TV report on acupuncture (it was recent, on UK TV, but really backward in its attitude) where they showed a patient in China being conscious during “heart surgery” … they cited the recovery as being much quicker than operations under general anaesthetic.

Well, aren’t you typically just mildly sedated for things like coronary angioplasty and such? I mean, if you put enough spin on that I guess you can call that “heart surgery”…

Hence my use of " " :slight_smile:

Yeah, but it sure isn’t “open”! :smiley: And you do get an IV sedative (like Versed) plus a local for where the small incision is made.

Side note for another thing that’s required for open heart surgery - those pesky ribs are in the way, so they have to be (IIRC) cut apart and opened up.

Perhaps the OP’s friend was referring to “psychic surgery”: