Better Anesthesia

It’s not a cancer cure, but there is some good news for breast cancer patients who opt for mastectomy or reconstructive surgery. Here’s information from a clinical study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in San Diego.

Immediately following surgery, most breast cancer patients experience severe nausea and vomiting. But it’s not the surgery that makes them so sick. It’s the anesthesia used during surgery.

Roy Greengrass, M.D., is an anesthesiologist “Some patients are debilitated for days following this — major interference with lifestyle, recovery – unquestionably.”

So when Judy faced her second mastectomy, she opted for Dr. Greengrass’s new anesthetic, called a paravertebral block. It reduces nausea in two ways.

First, it numbs only the chest area and blocks transmission of pain reflexes to the brain. Dr. Greengrass thinks these reflexes cause the nausea.

Roy Greengrass, M.D., “By limiting the anesthetic to where the surgery is going to be performed, we’re sort of tricking the body into not knowing it was operated on.”

Second, it lasts up to 30 hours. So after surgery, patients usually don’t need strong pain medicines that can cause nausea themselves.

Judy, “Had visitors right away in my room. The block — there is no nausea, vomiting and no pain. It’s so nice to be able to have the choice now that women before did not have.”

A choice that helps women heal.

Dr. Greengrass says about 80 percent of breast surgery patients at Duke University now choose the block. Of these, about one-third feel good enough to go home within hours of their operation. He says the block is also effective for certain types of hernias.

Source: IvanHoe @ 1999

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