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Before a surgery, hypnosis would relieve anxiety in the children as efficiently, and even more, than the usually used medication, assert French researchers.

These researchers of the University of Rennes1 recruited 50 children from 2-11 years old to for their study. All underwent a minor abdominal surgery.

Before being brought in operating room, half of subjects received an oral dose of midazolam, the drug the most usually used to relieve the anxiety of the children in such a situation. The other half benefited from a treatment of hypnosis, administered by the anaesthesiologist, besides receiving a placebo resembling the midazolam.

It allowed the scientists to establish that only 39 % of the children of the hypnosis group were anxious at the time of the beginning of the anaesthesia, against 68 % for the other group.

Hypnosis induces a state of relaxation, which would also have a positive impact on the behavior of the child after the operation, by making him more calm. The children having had recourse to the hypnosis showed, for example, less aggressiveness towards their parents and had less food or sleep disorders. So, after the surgery, only 30 % of these children presented behavior problems, against 62 % to those one that had administered the midazolam. A week later, these figures were respectively 26 % and 59 %.

The authors attribute the efficiency of the hypnosis, in this context, to two factors. At the contrary to the midazolam, first of all, hypnosis has no amnesic effect. That thus allows the child to keep memories of the surgical intervention, what makes it an event less traumatizing event.

The researchers as emphasize, as hypnosis would allow to the child to establish a relation of trust with his anaesthesiologist before the surgery, because it is this last one who administers him the treatment of hypnosis. This relation of trust makes then less difficult the separation with the relatives, a big source of stress for the children.

On this subject, paediatrician Sunita Vohra2, of the University of Edmonton, sees there the main weakness of this study. She thus emphasizes that the positive effects that are here attributed to the hypnosis could very well result from the relation which the child established with the anaesthesiologist before the surgery, a relation of which were deprived the children who received only the midazolam. Dre Vohra is at the head of Canadian Pediatric Complementary and Alternative Medicine Network.

The results of the study of the French researchers are published in the review Pediatric Anaesthesia and Dre Vohra's comment, in the pages of Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies.


1. Calipel S, Lucas-Polomeni MM, Wodey E, Ecoffey C. Premedication in children: hypnosis versus midazolam, Paediatr Anaesth, 2005 Apr;15(4):275-81.

2. Vorha S. Is hypnosis as effective as midazolam as preoperative medication in children? Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies





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