Sham Surgeries: How ‘Fake’ Surgery Has Exposed Useless Treatments


    There have been a great number of studies involving ‘fake surgeries’ and the results are quite interesting. I guess you could call it the placebo effect to the extreme.

    These are basically sham surgeries. A group of people is collected and half get an actual procedure where-as the other half only get cut open and stitched back together. No one knows whether or not they actually got the surgery and the results are documented as time goes by. Now, you would assume the people who didn’t actually get the surgery would decline in health, especially if it was a surgery they really needed, right? Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    There have been many instances of this kind of ‘placebo.’ Back in 2014 a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota by the name of Dr. David Kallmes actually tried this. He had been performing something known as a vertebroplasty for many years, or an operation that heals broken backs through the injection of what is essentially a medical cement. This procedure is one that is considered to be highly successful and relieves the pain of many, even allowing some to walk again.

    He was puzzled about this because even when something went wrong (for instance the cement being injected into the wrong vertebra) patients would still end up appearing to get better on a wide scale. His trial included about 130 people half were given the real vertebroplasty and the others, of course, received a fake operation. The results were astounding.

    Both groups experienced the same amount of pain relief and the same amount of improvement in their functioning. Yes, everyone benefited with or without the actual surgery, this, however, raises the question of how necessary the operation is in general. What do you think?

    Kallmes was not the first nor was he the last to do a study like this one. In the same year, the New England Journal of Medicine published a trial showing the benefits of fake surgery that proved just as Kallmes’ study did, that fake surgery could be a good thing. That being said, this study was a bit different. It involved people who were candidates for a knee surgery, these people had torn meniscus and were in crippling pain.

    Now, depending on which group they ended up in some had their torn cartilage repaired where-as the rest did not. That being said, during the time the operation was supposed to be taking place the doctors and nurses pretended to operate on those who did not get the procedure just in case they could hear what was going on while under. Both surgeries worked, subjects who went through the fake surgery improved just as much as those who had the actual procedure.

    Now a review of 53 sham surgery trials compared elective surgical procedures to placebos and found that they provided some benefit in about 74 percent of the trials and worked as well as the real deal in about half. Findings like this prove that some procedures just don’t work as well as they are promised to work but it does indicate that there is something powerful in belief. Believing that your surgery is going to fix things seems to change something within and give you more strength. For more on this check out the videos below. What do you think about ‘sham surgeries?’


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