New anesthesia treatment helps take trauma out of cancer surgery

Cai Wenjun
Super minimally invasive surgery with acupuncture anesthesia is helping patients recover faster and experience fewer complications.
Cai Wenjun

A 67-year-old man showed two scars on each side of his chest. Both were left by lung cancer surgeries, which also shows the development of medical technology and theories, doctors said on Tuesday, the International Lung Cancer Day.

The left side, which received a traditional lung cancer surgery eight years ago, left the man a 25-centimeter scar and poor memory due to complications left by anesthesia and surgery.

The man surnamed Mei said he had planned to forgo a second surgery after another suspicious nodule was found on his right side in 2018. “I was so afraid of the sickness and suffering from the previous surgery and I would rather die than receive another one,” he said.

But under the guidance of doctors, Mei went to Shanghai Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, which conducted a minimally invasive surgery with acupuncture anesthesia early this year.

The procedure left only a 3-centimeter scar without any complication, as acupuncture and medicine were combined with anesthesia without tracheal intubation developed by the hospital, which is the nation’s largest medical center for carrying out acupuncture anesthesia, to help patients better endure surgery. They also suffer less trauma and potential complications from anesthesia and enjoy a quicker recovery.

Dr Chen Tongyu, director of Yueyang’s cardiothoracic surgery department, said acupuncture anesthesia is a special anesthetic measure supporting surgery, as it can sedate, control pain, stabilize circulation and protect organs. No intubation is used in the surgery and the use of anesthesia medicine is reduced under the effects of acupuncture. 

“About 60 to 70 percent of our patients adopt such anesthesia,” he said. "They can wake up quickly and eat and drink soon after the surgery. The hospitalization time is only three day, compared to the traditional five days, and the medical bill is one third less due to reduced use of medicines and quicker recovery."

With the prevalence of CT scans and people’s rising awareness of lung cancer, more and more lung cancer cases are detected in early stage. “We are adopting a theory called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery, or ERAS, for patients’ smaller trauma and quicker recovery,” he said. “Acupuncture anesthesia is an important tool to help achieve ERAS. Through acupuncture anesthesia and minimally invasive technology, we have entered an ear of super minimally invasive surgery."

New anesthesia treatment helps take trauma out of cancer surgery
Ti Gong

Dr Chen Tongyu (left) from Shanghai Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine in a minimally invasive lung cancer surgery.

New anesthesia treatment helps take trauma out of cancer surgery
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A patient manages to walk back to his ward after a minimally invasive lung cancer surgery with acupuncture anesthesia at the hospital.

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