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Wide awake on operation table

An epileptic since she was 10, Draupadi suffered 400 seizures per day and leading a normal life had simply become impossible — she couldn't even play with her two younger brothers. But not anymore.

delhi Updated: May 12, 2009 00:21 IST
Rhythma Kaul

In the last 10 years of her life not a day has gone by when 17-year-old Kumari Draupadi hasn’t prayed for a miracle.

An epileptic since she was 10, Draupadi suffered 400 seizures per day and leading a normal life had simply become impossible — she couldn't even play with her two younger brothers. But not anymore.

Awake surgery, when a patient is awake during the duration of an operation, has made this daily wager’s daughter’s dream of leading a normal life possible.

“It’s such a relief to see her normal again. Earlier she would have a seizure almost every minute, but now she is free of that torture,” said Seva Ram, the girl’s father from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

Her’s was the 13th surgery in the neurosurgery department of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Apart from being awake, this particular process also allows interaction between surgeon and patient and getting direct feedback.

“I was conscious throughout and didn’t feel as if I were undergoing surgery,” said Draupadi.

“It seemed as if I were lying on a bed and talking to the doctors. I even sang a song while the surgery was on.”

Talking about the three-hour surgery, Dr P. Sarat Chandra, who conducted the surgery, said, “Awake brain surgeries aren’t new. What’s new is the way these surgeries are conducted.”

“With time the procedure has undergone tremendous changes. Now we can operate big tumours and even epileptic conditions while the patient is fully awake with almost zero risk.”

He said the patient remains conscious as he/she is given a special semi-general and local anesthesia to numb the pain.

The anesthetic also calms the patient, allowing him/her to answer questions without feeling nervous or anxious.

He said patients also prefer awake surgeries for psychological reasons. “The fact that you are not unconscious is a big thing for patients.”