Tweeting during surgery: Technology as an alternative to sedation.


Image courtesy of taoty /

You may have already heard about Janet Blank who recently became the first patient at Plymouth Hospital’s trust to use an iPad as a distraction during knee surgery rather than being sedated. The surgery, and the novel distraction technique, were both a success. Janet has been quoted as saying:

“I heard everything, the hammer and drill but it didn’t bother me at all […]. I went to the recovery room after the operation and then straight up to the ward, I’d advise it to anyone”.

Benefits of not opting for sedation include avoiding the side effects of the drugs involved. The surgeon is also able to communicate with the patient during the surgery which could be beneficial in some circumstances.

Distraction techniques have previously been used in other medical settings, for example:

Also, the recent surgery with Janet Blank is not the first time technology has been used as a distraction technique. In 2000, Hoffman, Patterson and Carrougher used virtual reality to distract adult burn victims during physical therapy.

All of these studies have found that the distraction techniques significantly reduced perceived level of pain.

What are your thoughts – is this a technique that you would choose as a complement to local anaesthetic? How about when it is offered as an alternative to sedation, as in the case of Janet Blank?

In the not so distant future patients may be updating their Facebook status and tweeting during surgery!


6 responses to “Tweeting during surgery: Technology as an alternative to sedation.

  1. Having never had a general anaesthetic before I’ve got to say, the thought of this scares me. But then I’m a whimp. I had all 4 wisdom teeth out under local anaesthetic because I didn’t like the idea of being “under” but then I don’t like the idea of pain either.

    BUT could help a lot of people so interested to see more cases.

  2. I have had many ops under anaesthetic and I have to say the only side effects I suffered was being a bit weepy. I need a carpel tunnel operation but turned it down because they want me to be awake but still don’t think I could do as you state above. I am a bit like Rachael I am scared of pain (even after having 7 children !!) Great post.

  3. As much as I try to use natural remedies as often as I can, I don’t think I am ready to go without sedation during an operation. Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I never want to have surgery, but I could see this as an option for me. When I have my teeth worked on, I would love to have an IPad to distract me. The sound that the tools make are eerie. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled, they put me under because the thought of being awake freaked me out. I think I like the idea of having the distraction.

  5. Yes I would love the distraction of doing something while under general anaesthetic but it prob will depend on the seriousness of the operation itself. Like could I relax enough about it to be able to get on social sites or work or ….

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