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Health: Awake Surgery

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Surgery while you’re awake, it can be quick, easy and pain free.  It’s for the growing number of patients struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome, pain in the arm and hand often linked to heavy computer use.  When physical therapy and medications don’t work, surgery is the only option. Now patients have a new option.

Teresa Gozik-Tyson is wide awake while she’s having surgery on her wrist for carpal tunnel syndrome.  “I feel no pain,” she said during the procedure.

The whole surgery takes about 10 minutes.  There’s no sedation, not even an IV.  “You can avoid all that,” says Dr. Asif Ilyas, Hand and Wrist Surgeon at the Rothman Institute.  He’s now doing most hand surgeries without sedating anesthesia to reduce.

Potential complications that can include breathing trouble, nausea, grogginess and headaches.  Dr. Ilyas says, “What I enjoy about it most is the safety aspect of it.”

The operation starts with what Teresa says is the only uncomfortable part, injections of  lidocaine to numb the surgery site, and epinephrine  that has been recently shown to safely reduce blood loss in hand surgery, which had traditionally been done with patients asleep.

“In terms of the surgical technique, it’s essentially the same what we’re doing. So I wouldn’t say it alters that, it’s more how we’re performing the surgery in terms of what the patients experiencing,”  Dr. Ilyas  says.

During the surgery, there’s a small incision in the wrist, then a ligament is cut to take pressure off the nerve that causes the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.  There are a few stitches and Teresa is ready to go. She said to the operating room staff, “Thanks everybody.  It’s very unusual when you can say thanks everybody in the operating room.”

And  because there’s no sedation,  Teresa is able to drive home, ready to go back to work – back to spending hours a day on the computer, pain free.

The Rothman hand surgery is performed at the Physicians Care Surgical Hospital in Royersford.

Teresa said, “I think it’s great, because I don’t need a driver. I don’t need preoperative blood work. I don’t need anything, no testing, just come in and have it done and drive away.”

She said she was a little nervous during the operation and liked the fact that patients are given the option of getting some sedation during the procedure if they feel uncomfortable.

For more information, visit: www.rothmaninstitute.com

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