Interesting phenomena related to anaesthesia

Anaesthetic Awareness

In 1960 a study had found that more than 1% of patients experienced some kind of awareness whilst under general anaesthetic, ranging from full-blown consciousness to recollection of fragments of surgical events. Pain and anguish during the operation were followed, in many cases, by mental problems afterwards. Some patients suffered from anxiety, depression and a pre-occupation with death. More sophisticated drugs and improvements in technology mean that anaesthesia is safer, but latest estimates suggest that about 1 in 1000 patients will experience some level of awareness during surgery. Nowadays there are about 100 million operations annually worldwide. Which means that about 100,000 people will suffer from anaesthetic awareness every year. In 90% of cases, patients will suffer no pain, but the memory of the experience may lead to psychological trauma.


The Guardian Saturday February 19, 2005

@It was the music that first weaved its way through Carol Weihrer's dulled senses, a faint beat carrying distant lyrics that ebbed and flowed from her consciousness. As the music became clearer, a keen light cut through the murk. Then came the voices, familiar murmurs crystallising into a clear, urgent discourse.
Though only Carol knew it, she had woken up in the operating theatre she had been wheeled into some time earlier for a routine, if gruesome, procedure called an ocular enucleation - the complete removal of an eyeball. A bank of lights peered down on her face and surgical drapes left only a few square inches exposed around her right eye. As the confusion of waking melted away, she realised the operation had yet to begin.
The surgical team was fussing. There was a problem with the ventilator. It didn't seem to be giving her the right amount of anaesthetic. How long would it take to get another machine in? Maybe an hour. Someone waggled the tube that had been fed deep into her lungs and the music, employed to bring an air of calm to proceedings, played on.
Though Carol had woken up, the paralytic drugs she had been administered were working perfectly, her body limp and unresponsive to even the most determined effort. "In my mind, I was screaming at the top of my voice," she says. "I thought I should have flown off the table with all the effort I was making. I was praying. I was doing everything I could. I was willing to sell my soul to get off that table."
If Carol managed to move at all, it wasn't enough, and the surgeons continued with their preparations. An intern was present to learn how the procedure was done. It's simple enough, given an ocular spoon to ease the eye from its socket and a scalpel to sever the tough bundle of fibres that make up the optic nerve. "I was lying there thinking, I can't survive this. Then I felt this tremendous tugging. I could only see this blinding light. The surgeon was saying, 'Don't be afraid to use all the force you need. You really have to pull!'"
Then everything went black.