Not many patients would be brave enough to be hypnotised if they have to go under the knife, let alone sing throughout the surgery, but for one singer in France, that appeared to be her only option.
When Alama Kanté, niece of the famous Guinean singer Mory Kanté, was told she needed an operation on a tumour on her parathroid glaand in her throat, she faced the possibility that she may never be able to perform again.
If her vocal chords were damaged, it would harm her singing voice and leave her having to find another career.
In an interview with Le Parisien newspaper surgeon Gilles Dhonneur, from the Henri-Mondor hospital near Creteil, said that for the singer, who specialises in African chants, it was imperative that they were able to check during the surgery that her “work utensils” or vocal chords were not damaged.
Although the pain of such a procedure is normally so unbearable that general anaesthetic would be the obvious option, Dhonneur said, the need to keep Kanté awake meant surgeons had to think of an alternative method.
Thankfully the inventive medics came up with a way to perform the surgery effectively whilst protecting her voice.
The decided to employ the “perfect compromise” of hypnotism along with a small dose of local anaesthetic and as such they were able to keep Kanté awake and ask her to sing at certain stages during the process.
“She went into a trance listening to the words of the hypnotist. She went far away, to Africa and she began to sing. It was amazing,” the surgeon told Le Parisien.
(Singer Alama Kanté after her successful operation)
At a press conference on Saturday the singer told the media that she has fully recovered and is ready to return to the stage.
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“The anaesthetist asked if I wanted to go on a journey, so I let her lead the way,” Kanté said.
Hypnosis was first used as an anaesthetic in 1992, by Professor Marie-Elizabeth Faymonville in a hospital in the Belgian town of Liège.
According to the Le Figaro, the technique is commonly used in France to treat severe pain, for example in major burns. However it is becoming more common for hypnotism to be used in operations.