Researchers from the University of Surrey have suggested that simple distraction methods can be very helpful during some of the surgical procedures in which patients need to remain awake. Removal of varicose veins is one such surgery in which patients experience pain and anxiety, but these can be resolved with simple distraction techniques. The new finding has been published in the European Journal of Pain. The study was carried out by Prof. Jane Ogden, along with colleagues.
For the study, 398 patients who were due to go through varicose vein surgery were considered. During the surgery, patients usually receive only a local anesthetic and remain awake throughout the procedure. Unfamiliar feelings like sounds and smells are reported by some of the patients during the procedure. Some patients experience a burning sensation while some report that overhearing conversations between surgeon and nurse about the procedure make them feel uneasy. Anxiety is another problem reported by patients undergoing such surgery.
The researchers considered four distraction techniques and the participants were divided into four groups. In one of the groups, the patients listened to music while the patients of another group watched a DVD. For the third group of patients a nurse, present throughout the surgery, was engaging the patients in conversations. A couple of palm sized stress-balls were given to the patients of fourth group and they were instructed to squeeze it while feeling anxiety or anticipated pain.
After the completion of the procedure, the patients were asked to answer a given set of questionnaires, on the basis of which the researchers made the analysis. Results showed that the patients who were engaged in a conversation with a nurse reported 30% less anxiety as compared to those who experienced no distraction. 25% less anxiety was reported by patients who watched a DVD while the stress balls helped the patients to reduce the anxiety by 18%. 22% less pain was experience by those who used stress balls while interaction with a nurse reduced the pain by 16%. Watching DVD had no impact on pain whereas music had no effect on anxiety or pain.
Prof Ogden stated “Our research has found a simple and inexpensive way to improve patients’ experiences of this common and unpleasant procedure, and could be used for a wide range of other operations carried out without a general anesthetic. This could also include the great number of exploratory procedures, such as colonoscopies and hysteroscopies, which are all done while patients are conscious.”