Intended for healthcare professionals


Operations: spinal versus general anaesthetics— a patient's view

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 23 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1606

Have fun - lt's enjoy it!

I found Vivien Stern's letter very interesting, especially as I have
some opposite views. I am 80 and a retired pharmacist and 18 months ago
underwent an emergency LIH repair. On Vivien's first point I agree
entirely that surgery can be an adventure. This was my first major surgery
ever and I looked upon every aspect of the preparation with great
interest. I am a coward and did not want other than a general anaesthetic.
The injection procedure for a spinal sounds very unpleasant although I
have not seen one done. I have been in OTs for several operations and
always found the first incision - that clear invasion of a so-far whole
and unsullied patient - unpleasant. I'm sure I would have shrunk from it
on myself. On the other hand I was perfectly willing to yield up my body
to the surgeon and had no fear. The anaesthetist, however, worked in my
own general sphere and I was fascinated by the results of his applied
pharmacology. Recovery was equally fascinating in its complete lack of

So - don't invite patients about to undergo surgery to feel
apprehensive. Tell them about the Great Adventure - and if they really
want to stay conscious, let them. On the other hand if they are like me -
let them have a general anaesthetic if they wish unless it is very heavily

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 December 2000
William G Peberdy
Retired pharmacist