Instead of using anaesthetics during operations, doctors should be taught to hypnotise patients not to feel pain, the Royal Society of Medicine is to be told.
Professor David Spiegel, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University in the US, describes the effort as a "clarion call to the British medical profession."
The expert will also call on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to add hypnotherapy to its list of approved therapeutic techniques for the treatment of conditions like allergies and high blood pressure to the pain associated with bone marrow transplantation, cancer treatment and anaesthesia for liver biopsy, reports The Guardian.
"It is time for hypnosis to work its way into the mainstream of British medicine," Spiegel will say at the joint conference of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis and the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis.
"There is solid science behind what sounds like mysticism and we need to get that message across to the bodies that influence this area. Hypnosis has no negative side-effects. It makes operations quicker, as the patient is able to talk to the surgeon as the operation proceeds, and it is cheaper than conventional pain relief. Since it does not interfere with the workings of the body, the patient recovers faster, too.
"It is also extremely powerful as a means of pain relief. Hypnosis has been accepted and rejected because people are nervous of it. They think it's either too powerful or not powerful enough, but, although the public are sceptical, the hardest part of the procedure is getting other doctors to accept it," he will add.
Professor Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, head of the Pain Clinic at Liege University Hospital in Belgium, said: "The local anaesthetic is used only to deaden the surface of the skin while a scalpel slices through it. It has no effect inside the body.
"The patient is conscious throughout the operation and this helps the doctor and patient work together. The patient may have to move during an operation and it's simple to get them to do so if they remain conscious. We've even done a hysterectomy using the procedure."