There have been claims that the postoperative course of patients may be improved by presentation during general anesthesia of therapeutic suggestions which predict a rapid and comfortable postoperative recovery. This study evaluated the effectiveness of such therapeutic suggestions under double-blind and randomized conditions. A tape recording predicting a smooth recovery during a short postoperative stay without pain, nausea, or vomiting was played during anesthesia to about half the patients (N = 109), while the remaining, control patients were played a blank tape instead (N = 100). The patients were primarily undergoing operations on the fallopian tubes, total abdominal hysterectomy, vertical banding gastroplasty, cholecystectomy, and ovarian cystectomy or myomectomy. The anesthesia methods consisted of either isoflurane with 70% nitrous oxide in oxygen to produce end-tidal concentrations of 1.0, 1.3, or 1.5 MAC; or 70% nitrous oxide in oxygen combined with high or low doses of opioids. Assessments of the efficacy of the therapeutic suggestions in the recovery room and throughout the postoperative hospital stay included: the frequency of administration of analgesic and antiemetic drugs; opioid doses; the incidence of fever; nausea, retching, and vomiting; other gastrointestinal and urinary symptoms; ratings of pain; ratings of anxiety; global ratings of the patients' physical and psychological recoveries by the patients and their nurses; and length of postoperative hospital stay. There were no meaningful, significant differences in postoperative recovery of patients receiving therapeutic suggestions and controls. These negative results were not likely to be due to insensitivity of the assessments of recovery, as they showed meaningful interrelations among themselves and numerous differences in recovery following different types of surgery. Widespread utilization of therapeutic suggestions as a routine operating room procedure seems premature in the absence of adequate replication of previously published positive studies.
- Anesthesia, depth: Awareness, memory, recall, learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine