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Patient Watched TV as Surgeons Performed Open Hip Surgery

Update Date: Jul 02, 2013 11:29 AM EDT

With advances in the medical field occurring every day, 68-year-old Jeannette Griffin was able to watch cricket as surgeons performed invasive open surgery to repair her hip. Hip surgery is categorized as a major surgery that requires a general anesthetic, which would leave the patient unconscious until the surgery is over. In this case, however, Griffin was given an iPad and headphones to watch a one-day match between Pakistan and South Africa as she was operated on for hours.

Griffin was able to watch the match after she was given the options between general anesthetic and another form of anesthetic called spinal block, which inhibits the person from feeling any thing below the waist. A spinal block can last four to five hours. Aside from being able to stay conscious, spinal blocks also require less pain relief maintenance post surgery. It can also lower the risk of deep vain thrombosis, which is a potentially fatal block clot, and is often considered a better option for people with severe respiratory disease. The procedure involves a needle that is threaded between the bones in the lower part of the back. The anesthetic is then injected to numb the area.

Although this type of anesthetic is becoming increasingly common within the United Kingdom, not every one wants to stay awake when doctors are cutting into their bodies and hammering away.

"I could hear some hammering in the background but I was prepared for that. I was conscious my body was pulled around slightly, but it didn't disturb me and I had no pain whatsoever," Griffin said, according to Daily Mail.

A consultant anesthetist with Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic Hospital in Oswestry stated, "In 2003, I anesthetized 43 hip patients and only six had spinal blocks. This year I've done 42 so far and all of them had a block. The majority opted to stay fully awake throughout the procedure. Many of them bring in MP3 players so they can listen to their favorite music."

Although a spinal block sounds like a great option over general anesthetic, it is not for everyone. Spinal blocks force some patients to use a catheter overnight, which could increase the risk of infection. On top of that about one in every 20,000 cases has a risk of developing permanent numbness or weakness in the lower half of the body. 

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