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A qualitative study of regional anaesthesia for vitreo-retinal surgery

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Abstract

Aim

The aim of this research was to collect experiential knowledge about regional ocular anaesthesia – an integral component of most vitreo-retinal surgery.

Background

Anaesthesia for vitreo-retinal surgery has predominantly used general anaesthesia, because of the length and complexity of the surgical procedure. However, recent advances in surgical instrumentation and techniques have reduced surgical times; this decision has led to the adoption of regional ocular anaesthesia for vitreo-retinal day surgery. Although regional ocular anaesthesia has been studied from several perspectives, knowledge about patients' experience of the procedure is limited.

Design

An interpretive qualitative research methodology underpinned by Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics.

Methods

Eighteen participants were interviewed in-depth between July 2006–December 2007 following regional ocular anaesthesia. Interview data were thematically analysed by coding and grouping concepts.

Findings

Four themes were identified: ‘not knowing’: the time prior to the experience of a regional eye block; ‘experiencing’: the experience of regional ocular anaesthesia; ‘enduring’: the capacity participants displayed to endure regional ocular anaesthesia with the hope that their vision would be restored; and ‘knowing’: when further surgery was required and past experiences were recalled.

Conclusions

The experience of regional ocular anaesthesia had the capacity to invoke anxiety in the participants in this study. Many found the experience overwhelming and painful. What became clear was the participant's capacity to stoically ‘endure’ regional ocular anaesthesia, indicating the value people placed on visual function.

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