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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Man Hypnotizes Himself And Has Bone-cutting Thumb Operation Without Anesthetic

Doctors were amazed when Alex Lenkei, a professional hypnotist, underwent a thumb operation which required sawing and chiseling of a bone without any aesthetic - and he said he did not feel a thing during the 80-minute operation at Worthing and Southlands Hospital, West Sussex, England.

Lenkei needed a bone removed from the base of his thumb. The surgeon then had to fuse some joints together. The successful operation should improve Lenkei's arthritis and give him more mobility.

David Llewellyn-Clark, surgeon, crushed the bone which was about the size of a walnut with a specially designed chisel, and then cleared the remaining bits with snippers.

Lenkei says it took him approximately 30 seconds to one minute for him to put himself under. He describes being completely aware of what was going on around him during the operation - he could hear the surgeon talking but could not feel any pain - he could even hear the cracking of bone.

"I remember at one point the surgeon asked for a saw, and I had images of this big thing like you get at B&Q - then he said, 'No not that one, the little one', and I thought.. oh, that's all right then. He used a hammer and chisel at one stage and I could hear him hammering away at the bone. I heard everything he was saying to his assistants and anesthetist, but there was no gossip. It was a shame - I was hoping to hear something juicy," Lenkei said.

Lenkei, 61, said he felt wonderful as he showed off his bandaged hand. Lenkei is a registered hypnotist and has been practicing since he was 16. He is now recovering at home.

Even though an anesthetist was on hand "just in case", his services were not needed. Dr. Richard Venn, the stand-by anesthetist, believes Lenkei managed somehow to get his own body to release a lot of pain-killing chemicals that prevented him from feeling pain during the procedure.

Dr. Venn explained that the patient's heart, blood pressure and breathing rate remained constant throughout the whole operation - this is an indication that he felt no pain.

Dr. Llewellyn-Clark said "I think this is possibly the extreme case of what can be done with hypnosis; but some people are very anxious about being given an anesthetic so I'm always looking to find alternatives."

Some studies have indicated that recovery speed might be better if standard anesthetics are not used.

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