Dr. Marx was featured on the front page of the New York Times online earlier this week in a piece by his patient Jan Hoffman, who elected to undergo regional, rather than general, anesthesia for her surgery. While regional anesthesia involves injection near nerves to numb only the surgical area, general anesthesia results in a complete loss of consciousness and is injected into the bloodstream. In the article, she provides her vivid patient perspective (while undergoing the right partial medial meniscectomy) from the operating room table – in addition to bits of Dr. Marx’s narration during the procedure – from the initial incision – to the meniscectomy itself.
Jan’s choice to remain awake during the surgery is not uncommon, as she details in another NYT piece that accompanies this one. Many patients choose to remain awake during their procedures for medical reasons. Recovery time is quicker and there are fewer side effects, ultimately reducing the need for postoperative opioids1. Many studies also suggest that regional nerve blocks actually have better overall perioperative outcomes than general anesthesia1. However, Dr. Marx suggests that the decision to use local vs. general anesthesia be made on a case-by-case basis with the anesthesiologist– as each patient’s procedure requires a unique and personalized operative plan.
Read the complete New York Times article here
1 “Perioperative comparative effectiveness of anesthetic technique in orthopedic patients.” Anesthesiology, 2013.