Awareness during surgery may not leave you stressed

London, June 22 (IANS) Patients with confirmed episodes of awareness during anaesthesia and surgery do not seem to be at increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says a study.

"We found no indication that intra-operative awareness with recall had any long-term effects on patients' psychosocial outcome," said Tanja Laukkala from Centre for Military Medicine in Helsinki, Finland.

The long-term follow-up study included nine patients with a documented episode of intra-operative awareness during general anaesthesia.

All patients had "definite awareness with recall" - they accurately described events that occurred during their surgery.

A median of 17.2 years after their episode of intra-operative awareness, the patients were evaluated on a battery of tests of psychosocial well-being.

Assessment included formal diagnostic interviews for PTSD, along with anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders.

Nine patients with similar characteristics - who had undergone surgery without intra-operative awareness - were studied for comparison.

The results showed no significant difference in psychosocial outcomes for the patients with and without intra-operative awareness.

In particular, none of the patients with intra-operative awareness were diagnosed with PTSD.

In fact, in no patient did the episode of intra-operative awareness meet criteria for being a "potentially traumatic event" of the type leading to PTSD.

Other measures of psychosocial well-being, including quality of life ratings, were also similar between groups.

A few patients in each group had depression or other psychiatric disorders.

Ongoing efforts needed to prevent intra-operative awareness with recall is an uncommon but documented complication in patients undergoing general anaesthesia.

Previous studies have suggested that intra-operative awareness may place patients at risk for PTSD and other mental health conditions, such as depression or alcohol abuse.

The results suggest that intra-operative awareness does not necessarily increase the risk of PTSD and other mental health problems.

The study was published in the journal Anaesthesia & Analgesia.