Hypnosis used in France for heart operation

A patient aged 88 has successfully had a heart operation under hypnosis instead of general anaesthetic, avoiding the risks and/or possible after-effects from drugs.

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Gérard Courtois underwent replacement of his aortic valve at the Lille CHU hospital while listening to a nurse trained in hypnotic techniques.

She spoke in a soothing voice to get him to focus on “positive memories” of his travels.

The hospital said this is ideal as it ensures the process is as harmless as possible, especially for such operations, which typically involve elderly people.

The procedure did not involve open-heart surgery. Instead the two femoral arteries in the legs were opened and wires were inserted to the heart. Usually the patient is unconscious.

Hypnosis is increasingly used in French hospitals – even for certain brain operations – but doctors say it is only suitable for procedures involving relatively moderate levels of pain and risk.